Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Of Poldark and Veggie Burgers

Any POLDARK watchers here in the cafe?

I confess a large part of this post was conceived just as an excuse to talk about Poldark.

The season finale was this past Sunday, and although there were times during this past season when Ross was anything but heroic, I stuck with it and in the end I *almost* forgave him.

If you're interested, I found a really interesting podcast interviewing Ross about the whole situation. As a fan of the show, I enjoyed it, but as a writer, it had me thinking about how I create history for my characters. Lovely to listen to him really analyze his character and his relationships.

Poldark Podcast 

So the food connection (bear with me) -

In one of the last Season 2 episodes, Dr. Dwight tells Caroline's uncle that he suffers from the "sugar disease" which I assume is diabetes.

Watching that episode on the Sunday after Thanksgiving having eaten so many wonderful pies (and heading into Christmas cookie season), I was reminded how badly I needed something healthy to eat.

So I decided to play with some healthy foods.

First I baked some gorgeous sweet potatoes.

Then I added some sprouted lentils and toasted sunflower seeds

I had the idea to add in some greens.  At first it looked like I had created an impossible mess, but they actually mashed down quite well.

I baked them for about fifteen minutes.

They made a great lunch. 

I tried adding some dried cranberries for a different flavor.

So let's talk - food or Poldark????

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Stuffing, or Dressing, Waffles

So Thanksgiving is over, and if your house is anything like mine, you're still noshing on leftovers. But eating the same old same can get boring after a while, so why not do something a little different.

I saw this last year on some cooking show and decided that I had to try it. We did and loved it. I haven't quite perfected it, though I think I know the problem.

We'll start with our dressing, or stuffing, if you prefer. The majority of Texans call it dressing. Me, I just call it yummy. One of my favorite dishes of the entire Thanksgiving feast.
Around here, we do your basic cornbread dressing, no fancy ingredients. Not that I haven't tried, but I seem get shot down every time. "Don't mess with tradition, Mom."
Okay, okay, I get the point.

Now we're going to scoop some of that beautiful dressing onto our HOT waffle iron that's been sprayed with Pam or some such product, and kinda sorta press it down just a little with our spoon.
Close the lid and press hard. Just long enough to compress things.
I had my waffle iron set between medium-high and high and it took about 5-6 minutes for the waffle to cook.
Crisp outside, moist inside. Though getting it off of the waffle iron was a bit tricky. I ended up picking up the iron and flipping the waffle over onto the plate.
Once you've plated your waffle, simply top with your favorite Thanksgiving leftovers. Turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy... The one I saw on TV was stacked high with a little bit of everything.
Okay, so one key here is that you want moist dressing. And while I did achieve my waffle, I think, next time, I'll toss a beaten egg into my dressing before putting it on the waffle iron to keep things together a little better. 

Now it's your turn. Do you have some creative ways with your Thanksgiving leftovers? If so, we'd love to hear about them.

Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and kids. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at

Monday, November 28, 2016

Winter Sunshine

Jan Drexler (The Mid-Westerner)

Why haven't there been many pictures of Thatcher lately?

Have you ever tried to catch wiggly fur ball?

There's my handsome boy! I had to bribe him for this one... :)

On to today's recipe - -

A couple weeks ago, our own Cate Nolan shared a post about turmeric. If you missed it, go read it now, but then come back! Here's the link.

This recipe is how I get my turmeric, my vitamin C, and lots of other good stuff.

And it's so tasty!

I have to give credit to a couple other people, though. I didn't think this one up on my own!

The core of this recipe is from Trim Healthy Mama's Singing Canary. (also delicious, but a little more complex).

Then last spring, my friend Martha Greene of Marmee Dear & Company, shared a simpler version on her Facebook page. (Check out her Facebook page!)

I tweaked her recipe a little, but not much.

You need some special ingredients for this drink, but they're easy to get thanks to the internet.

The Daily Sunshine Drink

If you have one of those handy stick blenders (I love mine!), combine all the ingredients in a 1-quart mason jar and blend them there.

Otherwise, put the ingredients in your blender...


1 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 teaspoons stevia sweetener, or 3/32 teaspoon pure stevia
1 teaspoon Vitamin C powder
1 scoop integral collagen
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon orange extract, or 8 drops orange essential oil
1/8 teaspoon lemon extract, or 4 drops lemon essential oil
pinch mineral salt

Blend together, then add 4 to 6 ice cubes and more water to make one quart, and your drink is ready to enjoy!

Now, about those special ingredients...

These two are your Vitamin C powerhouses. The lemon juice is in your local grocery store. I buy the Vitamin C powder on-line. Each teaspoon of the powder provides 450 mg Vitamin C. Here's the link to this powder on Amazon.

I buy my Integral Collagen from the Trim Healthy Mama website. What is this stuff? Here's the link from THM to tell you more about this product. Basically, it's gelatin broken down into shorter amino acid chains. You can substitute gelatin powder for the collagen without affecting the benefits. Here's a link to gelatin powder on Amazon. Or you can use Knox gelatin (those orange boxes from your grocery store).

Benefits? It's supposed to soothe joints, your nervous system and help your skin, nails and hair. I know my nails are stronger and my hair is thicker since I've been using this.

It's just another form of my mom's remedy for brittle nails from the 1950's - Jello. :)

Sorry about the fuzzy picture...  Be sure to use a good quality turmeric. Some of the cheaper brands have been found to be less than pure, triggering a recall a couple months ago.

I use stevia as my sweetener of choice. You can also use sugar, but that tends to defeat the low sugar lifestyle I'm trying to maintain...

The Truvia, on the left, is a blend of stevia and erythritol (a natural zero carb sugar alcohol). The erythritol lessens the bitterness that some people taste in pure stevia.

The stevia package on the right is from Trim Healthy Mama. I haven't found it to have that bitter edge, but different people have different tastes.

I use 3 teaspoons of the Truvia, or 3/32 teaspoon of the pure stevia. (In THM language, 1/32 teaspoon is called a "doonk." So 3 doonks.) :)

The flavorings. Katie, my future daughter-in-law, is my supplier for doTerra essential oils. I really only use this one and the lemon for this drink. They add a zing!

But you can also use extracts from the grocery store to achieve the depth of flavor that makes this drink sing. I'm not into essential oils, and I'm sure there are benefits from using them instead of the extracts, but I'm really looking for flavor here.

Real Salt from Amazon
There has been a lot of talk about salt lately. Between the pink Himalayan Salt and the black salt from India, and every color in between, you can go crazy trying to figure out which is the best. And some of those gourmet salts are pretty spendy...

Some people will say that salt is salt. Good old sodium chloride is all you need.

But I figure that if I can increase my intake of beneficial minerals while I'm salting my food, why miss that?

I use Real Salt as my mineral salt. The price is reasonable (especially when you buy it in bulk), and it's been around for years.

And one more thing - - If you like cold drinks in a Mason jar, don't forget to put a sock on it.

Clean orphan socks love to find new purpose as a drink cozy!

This drink is one way I stay healthy during cold and flu season. What are your favorite tricks?

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:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Creamy Tarragon Chicken Soup- Comfort Food AGAIN

Hello, everybody! I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving full of friends and family and love. The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have a delicious fall recipe for you.  But first, I have to share some pics of what we've been doing. Or who we've been watching. Because these cats.... I'm telling you, they are turning me into a crazy cat lady!
So, this is our big dude cat. His original name was "Lady" but he turned out to be a boy so the kids named him Koshka ('cat' in Russian). He's still Lady to me. 
He's a giant but he sleeps like this.
I mean... come ON. 
I can't resist rubbing his belly when I see him. Of course he responds with a big ol' stretttttttch.
So, that's his main sleeping pose, and now he has both kittens sleeping the same way! I'm dying of the cute.
The only thing cuter than the cats are my kids. Here's one waiting for his Cub Scouts "rocket" to take off. I love the excitement on his face!
Now that we've covered cute cats and cute kids, on to the recipe. 
 This soup calls for cream or half and half. I love those 50% rebate stickers when a product will expire in a few days. HAHAHAHAHA, I have six hungry kids. We can use that up in an hour, no problem!

Ingredients: (I'm listing the original amounts, not the amounts I use since I usually triple a recipe)
1 lb cooked and chopped chicken
1 cup flour
5 cups chicken broth
2 cups cream
1 cup chopped carrots
8 oz frozen peas
1/2 chopped onion
3 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
2 TBS fresh tarragon
pinch of thyme
Here's the chicken.
Sautee the onions and carrots in 1 TBS of oil for a few minutes. Add the garlic and stir.  Add one cup of the chicken broth, bring to a boil. Make sure the carrots are completely cooked because there's not a lot of cooking time after the broth is added. Remove from heat.
I really like this bouillon seasoning. No MSG, which is a huge plus!
Of course we're making a giant batch so I had to use a big mixing bowl-- and I still love my birthday gift from a friend! Pioneer Woman Cooks stuff is so pretty!
 So, step 2. Add the cream to the flour, tarragon, thyme, and pepper. Whisk together.
 Add the flour mixture to the vegetables and broth. Stir together. It should be very thick. Stir constantly over medium heat until the flour mixture starts to turn darker, like a roux.
 Add the chicken. Now add the broth one cup at a time, mixing thoroughly so the roux is completely combined. When the broth is mixed completely, add the cream or half and half, and the bay leaf.
At the very last, add a package of frozen peas and bring to a simmer. Depending on how thick you like your cream soups, you can let it reduce a little or you can dig in!
 Ta-Dah! So fragrant and creamy! This recipe was from a neighbor and making it reminded me that I needed to send her a card thanking her for all the great recipes she taught me before they moved away. YUM!!
Also, Advent is starting and we made our wreath. So exciting!  We've been practicing our Christmas carols so we can put on a concert for the nursing homes near us (which will be much easier now that we have TWO guitar players and a pianist). May everyone have a blessed beginning of the Christmas season!
 Be sure to stop by my facebook author page at Mary Jane Hathaway or Virginia Carmichael, or my blog at The Things That Last!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Tired of Turkey? Post-Thanksgiving Pot Roast!

Missy Tippens

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday full of love, friends, family and good food. And if you're shopping today  (I never do!), then you can ignore this and enjoy a good meal at the food court or drive-through. :)

But if you're home and sick of turkey, then give this a try. You can pop it in the slow cooker and enjoy another day with family.

Pot Roast and Greens

Chuck Roast
Fresh beets (mine are golden beets)
Small red/new potatoes
Greens of choice (I used red chard)
1 large onion (I always use sweet onions, preferably Vidalia)
1 bottle of beer (optional)

You can use a Dutch oven if you'd like. I'm so excited that I finally bought one last week!! Here's my pretty blue pot. I didn't use it for the pot roast but have already made spaghetti sauce in it. LOVE IT!

Okay, so back to the pot roast. I use one of the Reynold's slow cooker liners. They're fantastic for clean up!

Cut the onion in quarters or eighths. Lay in the bottom of the slow cooker (set on high).

Sprinkle the roast generously with salt and pepper. In a skillet, brown the roast on all sides for about 2 minutes each side (including the edges).

Put the roast on top of the onions in the slow cooker. Pour the bottle of beer over it. Put on the lid and let it cook for a few hours hours. Once it starts getting tender, turn down to low.

About 45 minutes to an hour before the meat is done, peel and cut the beets into chunks. Add to the cooker. Cut the potatoes in half and add them as well. If they were really small, I left the potatoes whole.

Wash and dry the greens. Cut out the stems and veins (although you can chop them and use them if you like to eat that part).

Stack the greens and roll them. Then slice them into ribbons.

About ten minutes before dinnertime, add the greens to the top of the cooker, piled on top of the meat. Put the lid back on and allow them to wilt.

When it's time to eat, stir the greens into the broth, pull apart the meat, and serve! Such an easy meal in one pot!

My plating never looks nice, so I hardly ever include those photos. However, I decided to on this one. Enjoy!

I hope you'll check out my website and sign up for my quarterly emailed newsletter!