Archive for Food & Dining

Celebrating Our Irish Heritage

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Damsel’s sister is an Ancestry addict, having traced not only her roots, but also those of mine, and many of her other in-laws. Thanks to her, we were able to look back in our family tree to establish that, indeed, there were Irish ancestors in both Damsel’s and my lineage. In both cases, we have to go back quite a few generations to actually find someone who lived on the Emerald Isles.

Damsel’s birth surname is quite Irish-sounding, while mine is more of English derivation. In both cases, we each trace to that region of Europe with some Dutch showing up in my ancestry (e.g. Van Patten, Van Slyck). Damsel has some Native American in the Oklahoma region up her tree.

Regardless of our actual heritage, we’re both Irish today as we settle in to enjoy a traditional (to Irish Americans) Corned Beef and Cabbage boiled dinner this afternoon. We hope that you are enjoying the day as well, Irish or not.

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Rosemary Farm

Bee Gathering Nectar

When we originally had the landscapers plant our yard along the back slope above the RV drive, they installed about fifty or sixty one-gallon rosemary shrubs with an irrigation system. The shrubs have been there for over seven years now, and have grown to mostly cover what once was bare slope behind the house.

I took this photo (click to enlarge) of a bee browsing some of the tiny flowers on the shrubs which have been blooming most of the winter. I can’t hear the buzzing anymore (tinnitus), but Damsel says the bees are quite loud as they busily gather nectar. Now, when the hummingbirds come by to do the same thing, I can hear them just fine.

When we need herbal rosemary for a recipe, we have no further to look than out behind the retaining wall on the north side of the RV drive. Damsel will send me out there with a pair of shears to snip off a couple of the freshly grown stems from one of the many bushes. I take the stems inside, wash them and pull the needles from the woody part. Damsel will either mince the needles or use them whole, depending on the recipe.

More on the Rosemary Herb from Wikipedia:

Rosmarinus officinalis, commonly known as rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region.

It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs. The name “rosemary” derives from the Latin for “dew” (ros) and “sea” (marinus), or “dew of the sea”. The plant is also sometimes called anthos, from an ancient Greek word meaning “flower.” Rosemary has a fibrous root system.

Rosmarinus officinalis is one of 2–4 species in the genus Rosmarinus. The other species most often recognized is the closely related, Rosmarinus eriocalyx, of the Maghreb of Africa and Iberia. The name of ros marinus is the plant’s ancient name in classical Latin. Elizabeth Kent noted in her Flora Domestica (1823), “The botanical name of this plant is compounded of two Latin words, signifying Sea-dew; and indeed Rosemary thrives best by the sea.” The name of the genus was applied by the 18th-century naturalist and founding taxonomist Carl Linnaeus.

My only observations regarding the text above is that (a) we’re a long way from the sea and (b) we don’t get much in the way of dew in the desert. I guess that the Rosemary herb likes it hot (it does get hot here), tolerates mild cold (rarely below freezing) and depends on the irrigation system we have here for moisture. And, clearly, the bees and hummingbirds pollinate them to their mutual benefit.

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Limoncello Day 2019

Limoncello Day

Today was the day for bottling (Mason jars, actually) the finished Limoncello product that Damsel put away last December. The intermediate step was completed to remove the lemon rinds and add sweetener in January, so after maturing, the product was finally ready for putting up today, if not in bottles but in Mason Jars.

Image: Damsel dispensing the finished limoncello from the big brewing container to a mason jar. Click on the image to enlarge.

I don’t have any photos of this year’s lemon harvest in late November, but it was certainly as large as the haul we made in the lemon harvest of 2015. Our little dwarf lemon tree has reliably produced since we put it in the “Orchard” in 2011.

From Wikipedia:

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy. In northern Italy, the liqueur is often referred to instead as limoncino. It is also a popular homemade liqueur, with various recipes available online and in print.

Although there is debate about the exact origin of the drink, it is at least one hundred years old

Visitors to our humble abode are usually given one or two bottles or jars of our brew. We also carry some with us when we’re on the road in the motorhome to give to friends and acquaintances. Sorry, we can’t ship it since it’s against USPS rules and other carriers don’t want it either. You will just have to come and get it or wait until we drive by for a visit.

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Diet Support Kitchen Gagetry

VeggieSpize Spiralizer

One of the things we most lamented about when we started on our diet last October was giving up pasta. For years, we have enjoyed dishes with all those carbohydrates and all the adverse effects they may have been having on our metabolic systems.

Now that we are on our reduced carbs diets and have been for about three months, we see our results taking place. Damsel is losing a little weight but more importantly, is reducing her blood glucose (she will be tested for that soon at the clinic). I have lost about twelve pounds and two belt notches since the start.

And all the while, we have been enjoying our new cooking lifestyle with substitutes for those things we thought we couldn’t live without. Instead of mashed potatoes, we have mashed butternut squash. Instead of noodles, we have enjoyed Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles) and that brings us to the gadget in the photo.

The photo shows the spiralizer cranking out zucchini noodles. It is a VeggieSpize Spiral Slicer available from Amazon. Damsel and I used it for the first time last week to prepare Zoodles to be served with her homemade low carb pesto.

You can buy prepared zoodles and other veggie or tofu products already packaged in the store, but the drawbacks there are 1) cost and 2) preservatives and other additives. Packaged zoodles in the size that correspond to one spiral cut zucchini is about $3.00. To do it yourself as in the photo is about $0.55 in cost and you know what’s in the final product.

As far as spiral-cut veggies being a substitute for pasta, they do the trick; zoodles, like spaghetti, actually take on the flavors of the sauces and are of no special value other than to transport to your taste buds. The Pesto Zoodles made a nice side for some Filet Mignon steaks we had last week.

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What’s for New Year’s Day Dinner?

I know that this post is a few days late since we enjoyed this Holiday dinner, but here it is regardless.

For many years, we have had a New Year’s Day dinner tradition of serving up a great batch of ham and 15-bean soup with a nice bakery roll. It seemed to us that a hot bowl of soup would be an appropriate meal for the usual cooler weather at this time of year. This year, however, we both are on a low-carbohydrate diet that (unfortunately) excludes legumes and bread. Our holiday tradition needed to be changed.

Well, since meat has no carbs, we would prepare a roast of some sort. We decided on having a popular roast of beef tenderloin using a Chateaubriand recipe.

Preparation for the dinner starts at the butcher shop. We bought a whole beef tenderloin on sale (≈$40) and had the butcher cut it to order. We put a bunch of tenderloin steaks (Filet Mignon) and various other pieces of the tenderloin in the freezer. We had the butcher cut us a pound and a half roast from the center of the tenderloin which would be used for our Chateaubriand.

Sear Season Roast

At home, the preparation was pretty simple; sear the roast in butter and extra virgin olive oil using a cast iron skillet. Reserve the pan drippings for the sauce later. Place the seared roast on a rack over an oven pan and coat with herbs and seasoning per recipe. Roast at 375° until a temperature probe in the center of the roast reads 125°. Transfer the roast to a cutting board, cover with foil and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice and serve the roast drizzled with the sauce. Add some lo-carb side dishes.

Sliced Roast with Sauce

So there it is - our revised New Year’s Day dinner tradition - Chateaubriand. Click on any image to enlarge and try not to drool on your keyboard.

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Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving 2016

We’re going to put a turkey breast in the smoker this morning which will be the entrée for our Thanksgiving dinner. We know that we are blessed on this day and others by the grace of God. May He bless you and yours on this day of thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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What’s for Dinner?

Low Carb Dinner

The answer to the title question is: a low carbohydrate dinner consisting of grilled Filet Mignon steaks, sautéed mushrooms, bacon-collard greens and mashed fauxtatoes. The fake potatoes were actually mashed cauliflower with cream cheese, butter, garlic, salt and pepper. The meal and all its components were quite tasty and enjoyable.

Damsel and I are now on a low carbohydrate dining regimen and the total carbs for this meal as prepared were a little less than ten grams. The steak has zero grams, the mushrooms about two grams, the cauliflower six grams and the collard greens under two grams. Since we’re on a low carbohydrate diet, we’re not counting fat and protein, although we like to have lots of fiber.

About the diet: we’re not going to strictly count carbohydrates as I did for this meal, but rather keep an eye on what ingredients might be high in carbs and avoid or limit them or substitute them with something low carb. There is plenty of on-line help to make the dietary information for most ingredients and some recipes readily available.

Over the last week, we have been easing ourselves into revised eating habits and this weekend we prepared both main meals with the diet in mind. We’re just getting started and already we’re noticing subtle changes to our bodies.

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