Tag Archives: herbs

Quick and Easy Winter Soup

Leek and potato soup:

2 – large leeks
2 – medium potatoes peeled and course chopped
1 – pint stock – or use 1 – stock cube (use the stock you like, beef, chicken or vegetable)
Salt (Taste ‘Before) adding salt, stock often contains salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground white or black pepper
Optional 2 – tablespoons butter
Optional – fresh mushrooms course chopped (thin sliced)

Course slice leeks and sauté them in 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil or melted butter.
Pour in the stock, add the potatoes and mushrooms. Simmer for about 25 minutes.
Soup is ready when the potatoes are soft and tender.
Top off with additional stock if needed.
Optional – Make this into a ‘cream’ soup. Blend in 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of cream. Do not boil.
Serve warm with toasted buttered garlic bread or saltine crackers.

Chili soup:

1 – 15 ounce can Wolf brand chili (with or without beans)
15 – ounces water
1 – Tablespoon chili powder
1 – Tablespoon dried oregano

Optional: 2 – tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
Optional: 1 – tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
Optional: 1 or 2 – fine diced fresh hot or mild green or red pepper.
Optional: Fine diced onion to taste.

Heat chili soup to a simmer.

Serve hot topped with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, warm soft flour tortilla’s, corn chips or saltine crackers.
Optional: Serve with a side dipping dish of green or red salsa hot or mild, the kind you like.

Chili pepper consumption could help you live longer

hot-red-pepper Chili pepper report The American Heart Association said “research has suggested that regular chili pepper consumers could have longer lifespans due to the fruit’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer and blood-glucose regulating properties. These factors play a role in reducing a person’s risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease or cancer.

570,000 health records were included in these studies, which included people from the U.S., Italy, China and Iran. The people who ate chili peppers regularly had a 26% relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality; 23% relative reduction in cancer mortality; and 25% relative reduction in all-cause mortality.

Chili Texas style basic starter recipe

First posted October 23, 2010
Chili seems to one of these terms that are thrown about and apply to many different thing. In the Southwestern United States  Chili will most likely be a spicy meat dish, ground or small diced beef. Across the border in Mexico the term Chili will most likely be applied to one or more different varieties of mild to very hot’ pepper dishes.

Cooling weather and cold winds of winter is Chili weather calling for a large pot to be placed on the fire and the slow cooking possess started for a big bowl of spicy meat Chili.
Start with beef stew meat that is course chopped or ground beef. Good chili meat should contain a bit of fat not being to lean. In Texas Chili is always made from beef and if you add beans or other foreign ingredients like rice to the pot it can’t be called Chili. In the south and southeast states, pork is often used as the main meat ingredient for chili.

Chili is served with a side of cornbread or saltine crackers or soft flour tortillas. {Google making homemade tortillas, it’s simple fast and easy.} You may also add additional hot sauce or fresh hot pepper but for your own safety taste your Chili before adding more hot pepper or sauce.

Warning: Never, Never ask for ketchup! Some chili cooks have been known to ban customers who ordered ketchup with a bowl of chili. Sometimes refusing them service as well. Chili cooks are a serious bunch that take great pride in their ‘secret’ chili recipes.

This is a good starter recipe and should be adapted and modified to the taste you and your family like.

Some people I know even add grated long horn cheddar cheese at the table.
If your ingredients are not fresh they don’t belong in your Chili pot.

2 tablespoons melted lard or good quality cooking oil of your choice.
5 cloves garlic, minced {If you can’t finely mince garlic, beat the hell out of it with the flat side of a big knife or meat cleaver} or add 1 teaspoon garlic powder or flakes
2 medium size onions, diced, course diced is better than a finely diced onion {strong flavored spicy yellow onions are best}
1 1/2 – 2 pound(s) course ground or chopped beef
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt {a little salt goes a long way in a chili pot, error on to little salt. You can always add salt at the table if need.}
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pure mild red chili powder [chili spice mix will work if you don’t have pure chili powder.]
1 tablespoon hot red chili powder or chili pepper [chili spice mix will work if you don’t have pure chili powder.]
4 Roma tomatoes blanched, peeled and course diced
1/2 cup tomato paste {tomato sauce will not work as well as tomato paste}
1/2 cup beef stock
1 cup dark beer {or what ever kind your drinking while cooking your Chili}
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons minced fresh Mexican oregano {Italian oregano will do if you don’t have Mexican oregano} If you don’t have fresh oregano use 1 table spoon of dry oregano.
* Add as many or as few course chopped, Hot or mild fresh Red or Green Peppers as you like to to get the hotness and flavor you are looking for. [Bell pepper has no place in a chili pot.]

To prepare the chili, heat the lard or oil in a large saucepan {a cast iron  4 quart or larger pot with lid works well.} Add garlic and onions, sauté [fancy word meaning to cook slowly] over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add the beef and sauté for 8 – 10 minutes longer, stirring frequently, until all the beef is browned. Drain off excess fat.

Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chili peppers and chili powder, cook for 2 or 3 minutes more. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, beer, vinegar, cumin and stir well to combine. { If you have any ingredients left over throw them in the pot as well.}

If you have beans with your chili, serve a bowl of pinto beans  or [kidney beans] as aside dish. You have a great deal invested in your Chili pot, don’t screw it up now by adding something weird like rice or beans to your chili pot. In the southern states rice is often used as a pinto bean replacement side dish.

Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, and cook very slowly, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour {add more beer, beef stock or water as needed}. Uncover cook 15 minutes or more until it is nice and thick. Chili should be thick like a good beef stew not watery like cucumber soup! [To thicken watery chili add a bit of corn starch at the end of cooking before serving.]

I should add this note, some chili cooks may simmer their chili pot up to 10 or 12 hours adding a little beer, water or beef stock as need. You decide what process is best for you and your family. Long cooking makes a better tasting chili dish.

Please remember this is a basic starter chili recipe and you may want to adjust spices to your taste.

Why is common sense so uncommon?
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Herbs add flavor to any food dish

Reworked, updated first posted 2015.

Herbs Make Common Foods Taste Special

Most herbs will do well in containers, window boxes and planted directly in your garden soil.
If herbs are conventionally located to you and your kitchen you are more willing and more likely to use them when cooking and serving meals.

Sage is a herb that does well if properly cared for. It requires a lot of pinching and cutting to keep it from becoming woody. As a rule, sage will need to be replanted about every 3 years since it will become woody with few leaves no matter what, so keeping it in a pot makes this change that much easier. Sage dries very well and if you pinch the leaves throughout the growing season, put a rubber band on them and keep them dry and in a dark place after drying. You will have wonderful sage all winter to give your family and guest a special treat.

Rosemary is always a kitchen favorite. It dries perfectly, holds its strong taste all winter, comes indoors and keeps growing in a sunny window and is rarely bothered by insects.
Use rosemary for many herb standards or topiaries. The woody stem is perfect for crafting. The stem also seconds as skewers so each harvest yields two separate herb crops. 1)leaves and 2)stems.
Keep the stems in a freezer bag and use them for grilling skewers. Rosemary doesn’t like to sit in water it likes to dry out between watering’s. Being in its own container makes the herb grow that much hardier, since it can receive special care.

Basil is one of the most rewarding herbs to grow in a container. It really lends itself well to the other popular container plants like the tomato. Basil likes to have plenty of water to keep its fleshy stems and tender leaves plump, but is susceptible to mildew. In a container, you must be sure the plant gets plenty of airflow.

Thyme is an undervalued herb. Many times it gets planted and never used. Thyme deserves a higher standing on our list of culinary herbs!
It will thrive in a container environment, needing only minimal watering. Some varieties grow into small shrub like plants that enhance an entrance to your home. It’s tiny purple flowers are lovely. Being such a low maintenance herb, thyme will fit in your container garden.

Mint is notorious for getting away from gardeners. You plant one and soon twenty will follow. Planting a bottomless pot into your garden is one way of controlling mint, but keeping it out of the garden completely, by using a separate container, is a better idea. Mint is also so tasty, it will be used more often if it is handy.

Chives Leaves/Flowers Use in fresh or frozen soups, salads, salad dressings, eggs, dips, vegetables, chicken, soft cheese spreads, butters, white sauces, and fish.

English Thyme Use leaves flowers with fresh or dried wild game, beef, soft cheeses, fish, chowders, pâté, vegetables, and tomato sauce.

Tarragon French or Spanish Use leaves fresh or dried with chicken, fish, eggs, tomato juice, butters especially nice on steak, vinegars, salads, mustards, sauces hollandaise, béarnaise and tartar, soups, chicken, fish, mushroom and tomato and marinades for fish, lamb or pork.

Greek Oregano Use leaves fresh or dried
in white and tomato sauces, stews, soups, fish, lamb, pork, vegetables, butters, and vinegars.

Rosemary Use leaves fresh or dried
with beef, lamb, fish, poultry, stuffings, soups, stews, fruit cups, soups chicken, pea, and spinach, vegetables, and marinades.

Sage Use leaves flowers fresh or dried
with stuffings for fish, poultry, and meat, pâté, eggs, poultry, pork, beef, lamb, pasta, cheeses cheddar, cream, and cottage, sauces brown and meat, soups cream and chowder, beef stews, and vegetables.

Hint of the Day: Use fresh herbs blended with ‘real’ butter or sour cream for that special taste. Herb’s go well with fresh baked potato’s, snack dips and fresh garden salads.

Hardy, Tasty – Fall and Winter Soups and Stews

Cooler and colder weather will soon be upon us all in the Northern Hemisphere. Time to think about homemade Soups, Stews and Sauces.

Onion, leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper and garlic is the flavor base for a wide variety of Western dishes: stocks, soups, stews and sauces.
Most often leeks(white and tender green tops) are used to replace onions when making your flavor base mix. If you use both onion and leeks use 1 part onion and 1 part leek and leek green tops. Note: select only very tender leek greens to use in you flavor base mix.

A good starting mix of Onion/leek, celery, carrots, bell pepper(any color) and 1 to 6 garlic cloves. My recommended ratio is 2:1:1:1.
2:1:1:1 = 2 parts onion or leeks, 1 part celery, 1 part carrots, 1 part bell pepper and garlic to taste. Garlic cloves become milder in flavor when heated(cooked) in this starter flavor base mix.

Medium dice (1/4 to 3/8 inch size) vegetables (do not dice garlic cloves). Salt and white pepper to taste.

In a fry pan cook, diced vegetables and whole garlic, with butter, olive oil, or other fat, for a long time on a very low heat without browning your flavor base vegetables. Flavor base is not sautéed or otherwise hard cooked, the intention is to sweeten the vegetables rather than caramelize them.
Garlic clove(s) can be removed at this point if your not a big fan of sweet tasty garlic paste.

Use this flavor base mix and your favorite soup, stew or pasta sauce recipe for a meal your family is sure to enjoy.

If this flavor base mix is to be served with a pasta dish, add 2 tables tomato paste, 1 table spoon dry basil stir until well mixed continue cooking flavor base mix. Once flavor base vegetables become soft and tender add tomato sauce continue to cook flavor base pasta sauce until it is thick remove from heat add pasta and mix well. Taste, adjust salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with a grated cheese that you like and serve while pasta and flavor base mix are still warm.

Spring time – plant your garden seeds soon, or miss your optimal planting time

It’s that time of year again, soil, day and night time air temperatures are nearing the optimal temperatures for direct seeding in your garden or raised bed soils.

An older blog post you may find useful Seed To Fork
North Dakota State University Agriculture Extension – Combinations found to be beneficial

Temperature, it’s all about the soil temperature.
Soil temperature is almost never to warm, however, soils that are to cool and damp at worst can cause your seed to rot in the ground and at best take many days to germinate. Seedling in cool soil grow slowly and often do not develop into healthy productive plants.

vegetable seed germination chart

herb seed germination chart

Words of wisdom: Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day. Harry S Truman

Ramen the noddle with many faces


Ramen Noddle shoes? I always knew Ramen is widely used by college students and those with limited funds or time to cook, but I don’t know how this will work in shoe size 6.

This post started out as a rant about what Sager Creek Foods, Inc laughing calls Popeye spinach. My first can was opened and drained of it’s water. After draining I had about 1/2 can of spinach the remaining content was water. In my opinion not a very good quality spinach. Containing mostly spinach stems only having enough leaf to legally call this product spinach.
However it does work well as an addition to stir-fried vegetables.

** Ramen noddles with stir-fried vegetables.
1 – package noddles
1/2 cup beef or chicken broth per serving (add noddle flavoring packet to broth)
I use Wylie’s beef / chicken cubes because that’s the brand sold by my local supermarket.
Thin slice vegetables to stir-fry (your choice)
1 – teaspoon soy sauce used when stir-frying vegetables
1 – tablespoon pickled pepper vinegar
Cook and drain noddles, add to your bowl of broth.
Top with stir-fried vegetables.
Optional 1/2 cup cold or hot white or brown rice as a side dish.

Serve with a wine or beer that you like to drink.
Optionally serve with hot Green Tea.

Don’t forget to invite a boy or girl that you like spending time with.

Happy New Year

Treat yourself to a Christmas gift that will keep on giving

Tomato Growers Supply is a valuable research resource that you can use to select next years tomato and pepper varieties that you want to grow in your garden. Their website has a picture and a short informational description of each variety they sell.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with this company. I have not been paid nor have I received gifts from this company.
I list them as a ‘Research/Reference site only. As a informational resource. Purchase your seed from a source you trust.

No matter where you purchase your pepper and tomato seed this site is still very helpful in helping you select just the right variety for your growing zone,
and selecting plants sized for the space you have available to grow tomato’s or peppers.

Tomato Growers Supply Company has a free catalog of tomato seeds, pepper seeds, and eggplant seeds. More than 500 varieties of tomatoes and peppers, including huge selections of both hybrid tomato seeds and heirloom tomato seeds, hot chiles, sweet peppers, tomatillos and eggplants.

Daughters …. Why do they do things like that?

Getting ready to shower I realized that the skin from my knees to my toe’s was really dry.

After a long hot shower and some time drip drying I was ready to put a good ‘coating’ of hand lotion from knees to toe’s.

A few day ago I ask my daughter to get me a new container of lotion. The last container she got for me made me smell like a field for blooming lavender. Not a good thing for an old guy but I could live with smelling like a blooming flower pot of lavender.

Without ‘reading’ the lotion bottle instructions, I struggled until I could get that little pump thing to operate and dispense lotion.

I quickly applied a liberal coating of lotion to my legs before I realized that I now smell like a fresh made party drink from one of the Caribbean islands. Eeeek … Pina Colada.

Why do daughters do things like that to their poor old daddy’s?

Not from the USA Please leave me comment about your home town and country.

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Why is Common Sense so Uncommon?

Eat Well From Your Garden Summer and Winter

Reading a post by Tammy Algood about preserving her Butter Bean crop put me looking for more useful information on DIY freezing fresh foods.

Here’s what I found that I think will be useful by many Home Gardeners.

National Center for Home Food Preservation has a website that list all the information on How To Freeze your summer garden and orchard harvest.

Their How To DIY charts and other useful information covers everything from Apples to Zucchini and is useful by even the most experienced Home Gardeners.

Eat well all winter from your summer garden and orchard harvested fruits.

Not from the USA Please leave me comment about your home town and country.

If you see or read something you like Please Share By Re-blogging, Twitter or Email To A Friend.

Why is Common Sense so Uncommon?