Saturday, July 30, 2016

Green salsa citrus stew

Hi, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have a delicious recipe for you. It's like stew, but not. If you're like us, you're suffering with this heat wave. We've been eating cold everything. Sandwiches, pasta, cereal. No kidding, I've been letting my kids eat cereal for three meals because it's not ice cream (that's for brunch and midnight snack).  
But every now and then we have to have some real food, so my daughter asked if we could make this recipe she saw in a magazine.
Originally, it had potatoes, pork, green chiles, and chicken broth. But we also like to use what we have and mix it up, so here's the new and updated version!

 3 cups tomatillos
one onion
3 cops chopped pork
3-4 cups chopped potatoes
5 cups broth
two oranges
four large mint leaves

 Instead of green chiles, we used a jar of home canned tomatillos. You can buy these little green tomato-type things at the store. Easy to boil until they get soft. So, a jar of tomatillos and five cups of broth (what I had stored in the freezer). Bring to a boil. It's tempting to start adding spices and seasoning but just wait because when you add the potatoes, you'll have to start all over.
 Chopped potatoes. We used about ten, but we were cooking for a crowd. I'd say as a rule for this stew to make sure your tomatillos, potatoes, and pork are in equal amounts.
 Fry up some pork chops. Ugh. not attractive before they're cooked but so good after!
 Now, chop the pork into small cubes, add to the potato and tomatillo stew. Adjust the broth if necessary. It should be pretty soupy because it has a while to boil down. After letting it boil until the potatoes are soft, squeeze two large oranges (watch for seeds). The sweet citrus is a great addition to the tangy green salsa. It gives it a balance and keeps it from being overwhelming.
 Last step, add four or five large mint leaves. Mint and pork always go together, but my husband adds mint to his stews because he says it's good for digestion. Not sure if that's true, but I LOVE the smell of mint/citrus stew. He even adds it to chicken soup, and it gives it such an exotic flavor. After the mint has cooked for a few minutes, add salt and pepper and maybe some hot sauce to taste. Depending on what heat level you like, you can leave off the hot sauce altogether, or serve it individually.
 A dollop of sour cream, some tortilla chips and some cilantro completes the dish!

That's all for now! I hope everyone is surviving the heat! I've just passed a deadline and am diving back into another series, so I'm feeling like life is AWESOME. Lol. You can tell I always love starting more than beginning a book. Or maybe both? Anyway, stop by my Mary Jane Hathaway author page, or my Virginia Carmichael page (soon to be resurrected pen name!), or my blog at The Things That Last. Until next time!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Quick and Easy Veggie Burritos

by Missy Tippens

When I tried to figure out what to post about, I realized how little cooking I've done lately (beyond throwing a sandwich together or making my standbys of spaghetti or tacos or grilled chicken). So I went searching for photos of food in my phone. I had to look back to mid-June, right before our move. I found that I had made a quick and easy veggie burrito that turned out really good!

1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 or 2 zucchini, chopped
1 can black beans
1/2 bag frozen corn (or open a can if you prefer)
tortillas (I use the low carb, high fiber ones)
grated cheddar cheese (or any kind of cheese)
Any other veggies you'd like to add

Sauté the onion in some olive oil until translucent.  Then add in the zucchini and cook until starting to get tender.

Add in the corn. Then once that's heated through, stir in the beans. Cook until heated.

Fill the tortilla and sprinkle on some cheese of your choice.

Serve with a little sour cream or salsa if you'd like. Enjoy! This is great for making dinner in just a few minutes.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ruthy's Homemade Four-Berry Jam


Years ago I read an article that talked about how freezing berries makes them "juice" better once thawed.

Well, I wasn't born yesterday, and when Big Box stores moved into town, I realized I could buy a ginormous bag of individually quick frozen (IQF up here) sliced strawberries, Triple Berry Blend and sour cherries.

Now sour cherry jam is a family favorite, a recipe my mother-in-law loved and shared a long time ago.

And each year I buy a 40lb. bag of IQF frozen sour cherries and I pour those little fellows into 1 quart or 1 gallon freezer bags and pop them in the freezer. I make sour cherry jam, and cherry pies and whatever else seems fitting...

The point is... I love fresh fruit, and I loved the fun of going off and picking berries, but here's the
4-1-1... I'm crazy busy now with two jobs, an amazing writing career, 6 kids and 14 grandkids and a farm...

So if I can find a way to create amazingly good things on less time and even less money?


This jam is based on the reduced sugar recipe version on the Ball Classic Pectin

A batch makes 2 eight-ounce jars. I quadrupled it to get 8 eight-ounce jars, or 4 sixteen-ounce jars...

Here's the super simple recipe:

Four-Berry Jam

4 1/2 cups frozen triple berry mix (thaw in microwave and mash to equal 3 cups)

4 1/2 cups frozen sliced strawberries (thaw in microwave and mash to equal 2 1/3 cups)

6 Tablespoons Classic Pectin

2 tsp. butter

5 cups sugar

Put mashed berries in 8 quart kettle. Cook over medium-high heat. Stir in butter and pectin gradually. Stir and bring to rolling boil, stirring constantly, a boil that cannot be stirred down.

Add sugar all at once.

Stir sugar in quickly, bring mixture back to a full rolling boil and boil one minute.

Ladle into clean, hot jars.

Top with hot lid and screw band. Place jam in water bath canner, cover with water and boil for ten minutes.

Remove jars from boiling water bath, allow to cool. Lids will seal as jam cools.

We are in love with this jam! It is so good, and I made up a dozen 8 ounce jars to use for Christmas presents. How much fun is it to have delicious homemade jam in a Christmas box or basket?

Yes! This is truly Christmas in July!

And here is some summertime crazy fun for you... The first is Logan. Do you love that somewhat crazy but  charming grin? He built me a HOUSE with a chimney and a blue pond with a fish and a frog... He made Grammy's house! And the second pic is... me. A Play Doh version of me. Stunning resemblance!!!

And then we've got this:

Artist MacKenzie at work, photobombed by cinnamony Watermelon Rind Pickles!!!!

And Friday the girls decided to GET DIRTY:

  Spa day with mud packs, anyone????

And then my weekend project with Mandy and Casey... Mandy used her power washer to wash the front porch concrete floor.... Casey painted the railings..... And I etched the floor with acid, then applied the "bonder" and then two coats of paint... So here you have the before:

And the after!!!

LOVE IT! This week we'll put the swing back and the flowers and then we'll do the same thing to the side porch. There are never enough summer weekends to fit all the summer projects and parties... but we're doing our best to stretch things out!

So that's it from the farm. We've just rolled the big produce stand out to the road, yellow squash, zucchini, beans and cucumbers are ready, and soon tomatoes and corn will join them... And while Mother Nature has been a little stingy with rain, we've been paying young folks to help fill and distribute gallon jugs of water. And we'll leave you with one last picture of what summer's all about... sleepy babies at the town fireman's parade...

And life is good.

Ruthy Logan Herne is living her dream writing sweet inspirational stories that make folks laugh, cry and sigh as they turn the pages... she lives on a farm in upstate New York and loves God, her family, her country, dogs, cats, chocolate, coffee and flowers because if you live up north, your flower season has inborn limitations!

Follow her on Twitter, friend her on facebook at Ruth Logan Herne or stop by her website to see what's coming up in Ruthy's world!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What to Cook when the Temps are Cooking?

It's hot!

Really hot.

Since I had a meat thermometer out the other day, I decided to check the temp in my kitchen - 95degrees

Which is just my wimpy way of explaining why there's really not much cooking going on at the moment. The heat wave and the fact that I was at a writing workshop for teachers for the past two days.

But we still have to eat.

Honestly, I'd probably rather eat a bowl of cereal -

This one was on sale for $2.99 last week. It's already one of my favorites, but load it with a pile of fresh blueberries??? Oh yum!

It's really kind of scary how many blueberries I have eaten in the past few weeks!

But man (or woman) cannot survive on cereal alone, no matter how tasty.

So I've done a few quick meals this week that gave me nutrition and taste without a lot of oven time.

The first is similar to one I've done before. I had the most amazing plum tomatoes from the farmer's market plus my basil, so what better to do than fresh pizza.

All I did for this was hollow out a loaf of Italian bread - you don't have to but I like the crust better than the doughy part.

I sprinkled shredded cheese and garlic powder on the bread, then added some oregano and fresh basil leave. I topped it with those luscious tomatoes.

The concoction went into the oven just long enough to melt the cheese. DIVINE.

Oh my goodness!  I could eat this stuff all day!

In fact, I made it again tonight on mini pitas instead. I left the tomatoes off one.

Fenny's hoping I'll drop a shrimp.

But last night we were in the midst of crazy storms so I was late cooking. I sure didn't feel like cooking when I had to close the kitchen windows on top of the 95 degree h

Saved by the leftovers.

I made fried haddock for my husband a week ago. Brilliant me thought I would forego my usual egg batter and try the milk soak that Ruthy described for fried onions.

Nope. Didn't work. Made a mess.

I had more of the haddock so I fried that up normally for him and saved the rest in the freezer.

So one night when I had no culinary inspiration whatsoever, I  remembered that haddock. I took it out, added some pre-cooked shrimp from COSTCO, covered with a breadcrumb topping, some lemon and butter, and stuck under the broiler for a few minutes. Soooo very good.

If it wasn't summer, I probably would have paired it with rice or noodles, but this was perfectly light just as was.

Nice things about summer -

When I'm in Maine, I love summer sunrises. But this year, stuck in the city, I'm really appeciating all the vivid summer sunsets. The camera really doesn't do the brilliant sky justice.

This doesn't even begin to capture the colors, but I took it through my window so not too bad,

Sunrise in Maine.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

It's Wedding Season!

Missy, here. I've been away for a few weeks and really appreciate Chef Tina Radcliffe filling in! On top of a move in June, our son got married on July 16th. We don't have photos back from the photographer yet, but I took some myself on my phone. :) I think I frequently got in the way, because my son kept telling me they hired a a professional to do that. LOL But I told him I had to have some photos on my phone to easily share with my friends!

So here are the photos I took for all of you. First, the rehearsal dinner. As the groom's parents, this was the event we hosted. Here are my sister, brother-in-law, my other son (the best man), his girlfriend, my daughter and one of the groomsmen--some of the first to arrive. We held it at The Pinnacle Club in Augusta, GA. 

It stormed as we arrived, then soon cleared. Here's the gorgeous view of the Savannah River we had from The Crystal Room! A beautiful rainbow ordered just for the bride and groom. ;)

Then Saturday was wedding day! Here's the gorgeous alter table, photos I took before the service. I wish I had one with the candles lit.

Since my daughter was a bridesmaid, I spent the day with the bride and bridesmaids  But I took this shot on a quick visit to the groom to see how handsome the guys looked in all their finery. He looked so happy!

Here's a shot I took over the photographer's shoulder. :) A photo of the beautiful bride and her bridesmaids.

Skipping ahead to post-wedding photos. A dip kiss of the bride.

Oh, wait! I did take a photo of the alter table while the candles were lit!

I love this shot.

Here's a cute one outside after the wedding. Sarah's train had gotten stepped on, and it broke the bustle. So Nick was trying to help her hold it (until I was able to sew a new loop later at the dinner reception).

Here's a stunning shot of the dinner reception venue, Sacred Heart Cultural Center. I was blown away when I first walked in.

And here's the bride and groom's first dance as husband and wife.

And the sweet mother-son dance. I ended up crying through most of it! He had to tell me I needed to stop before I made him cry. :)

And since this is The Cafe, I had to share a photo of the wedding cake! It was beautiful. They also had smaller cakes in different flavors (chocolate/yellow marble, strawberry and lemon). 

The photographer Lauren Carnes (if you live in the Augusta area and need a photographer, she's amazing!) did a blog post and shared a good many of her gorgeous photos. If you have a minute, check it out! click here

I have to add what I thought was a very sweet part of the service. My husband and Sarah's dad are both United Methodist pastors. They've been good friends for almost thirty years. They did the ceremony together, which made it very meaningful. I didn't think Nick would appreciate me pulling out my phone and taking a photo during the service. LOL But the photographer shared a photo on her blog post that shows the two dads together with Nick and Sarah. I love it.

If you've hung out with me this long, thank you! I appreciate you celebrating the occasion with me. :)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower...umm...Steaks?

I ran across this recipe on line somewhere recently, and had to try it.

We've talked about roasted veggies here in the Cafe before, but this...oh have to try it!

Start with a head of cauliflower. Doesn't it look beautiful?

Slice it into "steaks" about one inch thick. I did three (one was quite small) because this was going to be the main course for my lunch. If you're using it as a side dish, make one slice per person.

Lay the "steaks" on parchment paper that you've prepared with cooking spray or lightly coated with oil. Coat the top of the slices with oil, also. (I used coconut oil.)

Season with salt, pepper and garlic. Roast at 450° for 45 minutes.

Be sure to choose a coolish day!

After 45 minutes, take the "steaks" out of the oven and add whatever toppings sound good. I used shredded cheddar, but don't you think crumbled bacon would be great, too?

Put the pan back in the oven and turn off the heat. Leave it be for 30-45 more minutes.

I left mine in for a full hour - a bit too long - but so scrumptious! The cauliflower was soft and creamy, and the cheese was toasted and yummy.

And yes, it was a delicious lunch!

In other news, it's tourist season in the Black Hills (or anywhere, I guess!). We spent some time being tourists over the weekend. We visited one of our favorite spots in Custer State Park: The Badger Hole.

I wrote about this quaint cabin and the prolific poet who lived there last year (you can read that post here), and I fell in love with the place and the man all over again on this visit.

After all, how can you not love a man whose walls are lined with bookshelves?

And looking at that post from last year, I am reminded that I gave up on my sourdough! But no worries. I'm going to try again...I'll see if I know what went wrong last summer. I think I have it figured out.

How is the summer going at your house? Do you have tourists in your area? Or are you the one who travels to far destinations?

Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books: