Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Skin and Tonic

Essential oils have been used in beauty rituals way back in “ancient times” and are still found in many skincare products…for everything from dry skin to the signs of aging…especially as  alternatives to skincare products that contain processed ingredients, harsh chemicals, and lots of other ingredients that any normal person has trouble pronouncing, much less know what they are.

Not only that, it has been proven, both in food and the cosmetic industry, that the closer a product is to the way God actually made it, the better that product will improve you.

Some essential oils contain antioxidants and antibacterial properties that have been shown to actually be good for your skin.

Potential benefits of essential oils in the health and appearance of your skin may include…

  • enhancing your skin’s UV resistance
  • helping your body absorb antioxidants
  • stimulating your immune system

********************************

The Best Essential Oils for Skincare

The best essential oils for skincare are…

  • Chamomile
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rose Hip
  • Tea Tree

****************

Korean Skincare

Let’s look at ways to add the benefits of these essential oils as part of your skincare regimens…more specifically the Korean 12-step beauty routine…

Korean skincare../even though time-consung in its ten-step regimen, has become trendy even among non-Korean because we all have admired the healthy, beautiful, and seemingly ageless skin.

So I thought that it would be fun to share some DIY and OTBC (over-the-beauty-counter) treats that use essential oils as one of their key ingredients.

 

 

*******************

Morning Regimen

1: Wash with water…The first step in Korean skincare is to simply wash your face with water…no cleanser, just water to remove any “junk” that has settled on your face during the night and help hydrate your skin.

2. Apply toner. Okay, let’s dwell on toner for a bit and see why we need it and how to make your own.

 

**************

Why Use Toner?

There are several reasons to use toner, even though most of are content to skip this step and only use a cleanser and a moisturizer…or at least I am…

But there are actually several reasons to start using toner…

  • balances the skin’s pH
  • helps your skin to absorb the products that you will be applying to your face next
  • keeps your skin from becoming dry and dehydrated
  • keeps skin feeling clean and looking radiant
  • provides moisture
  • tightens pores

****************

Types of Toner

There are three different types of toners…

  • Fresheners and bracers
  • Skin Tonics

1. Fresheners and Bracers…Fresheners and bracers contain no alcohol…simply water and humectants—such as glycerin. They are the most gentle of toner types.

Fresheners and bracers contain humectants, such as glycerin, that help prevent moisture from evaporating off the top layers of your skin…and can be used on dry, sensitive and normal skin.

One example of a humectant is rosewater toner….so let’s find out how to make your own.

2. Skin Tonics…Skin tonics contain up to 20% alcohol in addition to the water and humectants found in fresheners and bracers…meaning that they are not as gentle to your skin. The alcohol acts as a drying agent in the tonic.

Skin tonics are suitable for use on normal, combination, and oily skin.

3. Astringents…Astringents contain a high proportion of alcohol (20-60%) in addition to antiseptic ingredients, water, and a humectant…meaning that these are the strongest form of toner out there.

Astringents are mean to be applied to specific areas of the face, not all over the face. Not only that, using an astringents too often can actually make your face oilier instead of remove oil from the skin.

*************

Ingredients

Herbs…Chamomile is often used in making homemade skin toners because it is so mild, but other herbs may also be used…for example…

  • Dry skin…ederflower, linden flowers, and marigold
  • Normal skin…fennel, lemon balm, parsley, and rosemary.
  • Oily skin…fennel, lemon balm, parsley, rosemary, peppermint and sage

********************

Szteps to Using Toner

Boil milk or water to a boil.. Pour over the chamomile. Steep for 2 to 3 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar, witch hazel or glycerin,  if using. Let the liquid cool, Strain the toner into a sterilized bottle. Shake the bottle to combine the ingredients.  Refrigerate…will keep in your fridge for up to five days. Apply to skin with cotton balls after you wash your face, but before using moisturizer. Do not rinse.  Apply moisturizer.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Pancakes

 

 

 

****************

The Ingredients

  • n2C flour
  • ¼C sugar
  • 4tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp salt
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 1½C milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼C melted butter
*****************

Dry Ingredients

Mix together these dry ingredients.

You can do this with either a whisk or a Mason jar.

You want to go ahead and mix your dry ingredients enough to get rid of any lumps at this stage in order to avoid big lumps….and because later you will need to avoid over-mixing the batter once you add the wet to the dry,

 

 

The Baking Powder…Be sure to check the expiration date on the baking powder canister. If your baking powder is old or expired, your pancakes will not right…and will end up flat, instead of light and fluffy.

If you would like even fluffier pancakes, feel free to double the amount of baking powder.

You might also want to try using only 2tsp of baking powder and then adding 1/2tsp baking soda.

 

The Flour…Spoon your flour into a measuring cup instead of scooping the flour out of the flour canister with a measuring cup, like most of us do…including me.

Scooping the flour causes your measuring cup to be filled with too much flour, often resulting in tough pancakes.

Don’t restrict yourself to only using all-purpose flour…be adventuresome by swapping out half of the flour with another type of flour—such as whole wheat, buckwheat, brown rice, corn, oat, or gluten-free.

 

 

*********************

Mason Jar Method

You can also use a Mason jar to shake your ingredients together.

To do this, layer your wet ingredients first—milk, egg, and oil…and then your dry ingredients—flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a wide-mouth quart-sized jar. Seal the jar tightly . Shake the jar vigorously for at least two minutes…until the ingredients are combined. Once the ingredients are combined, you can either cook pancakes immediately or stick the jar in the fridge for later.

To make your pancakes, simply pour the batter straight from the jar onto your griddle or pan…and cook them…(more on that later)…

 

—————————–

Liquid Ingredients

Combine your liquid ingredients.

 

The Butter…Using unsalted butter allows youu to control the taste of your pancakes better..

 

The Buttermilk...Butttermilk is what makes your pancakes tenderest. If you do not want to use milk or buttermilk, use water, coffee, or juice as your liquid base instead…reducing the amount of liquid called for in the original recipe by.one-fourth of the amount.

 

 

 

The Eggs…Bringing your eggs to room temp before mixing into your batter will give you the best results.

To make your pancakes even fluffier, take the time to separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. …beat your egg whites  with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form…and finally fold the beaten egg whites into your batter gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.

 

 

 


**************
Mixing Ingredients Together

You should have already whisked your dry ingredients together before you added in the wet ingredients…so you should be able to combine your wet ingredients and dry ingredients together very easily.

Now gently fold your dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined.

Stir until the flour is moist, but there are still a few small clumps of flour.

.Do not over-mix the batter. It’s okay to leave some lumps in the batter.

If you overmix the batter, you will end up with tough and dense pancakes, not fluffy.

At this point, you should add any ingredients that you would like to add to your batter…such as…

  • Banana…one mashed ripe banana
  • Blueberries…1C
  • Cream cheese…3oz finely chopped cream cheese
  • Lemon…1tsp grated lemon peel
  • Orange…1tsp grated orange peel
  • Pecans…1/2C…toast and chop finely
  • Strawberries…1C
  • Walnuts…1/2C…toast and chop finely

 

 

*********************

Resting Your Batter

Now that all of your ingredients have become friends, it’s time to rest your batter. What does it mean to “rest” your batter?

To rest your batter means to simply leave it alone for anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. The longer you rest your batter, the better your pancakes will turn out…

Why should you “rest” your batter?

Resting your batter will…

  • dissolve any small lumps
  • give the baking powder enough time to activate
  • give the flour a chance to absorb liquid in the batter

 

 

 

**********

The Pan

As far as what kind of pan to use when making pancakes, the best option is an electric griddle…

An electric non-stick griddle makes flipping your pancakes much easier.

But if you’d rather cook your pancakes on top of the stove or don’t have an electric griddle, use a large, about 12,” non-stick skillet with sloping slides….preferably cast iron.

Cast iron will give you even heat distribution allow you to brown your pancakes without having to use tons of butter.

 

 

*******************

Heating the Pan

 

Heat your pan or skillet over medium heat until drop of water sizzles..

Heat a little bit of vegetable oil…(for other types of oils to cook with, check this previous post out)…

Avoid using regular butter because the butter will be more likely to burn and make your pancakes turn out funky tasting.

Reduce heat to medium-low.

 

 

***********

Cooking

Use a 1/4C measuring cup…or pour the batter from the Mason jar depending on which method you used earlier…to shape the batter into medium-sized circles….about 3-1/2″ wide. 

Cook your pancakes for a couple of minutes…until little bubbles appear and the edges start to get firm.

Be sure to avoid squishing the pancakes with your spatula.

Flip. Once you flip the pancake over, don’t press down on it with your spatula. Let the pancake cook naturally so you do not end up with flat, boring pancakes.

Cook your pancakes for a couple of minutes on the other side…until both sides are lightly golden.

Keep pancakes warm while you’finish cooking the rest by covering the pancakes with aluminum foil and then sticking them in an oven that has been preheated to about 200.°

If you find that your pancakes are browning too quickly, turn down the heat down and let the pan cool down for a minute or so before starting the next batch.

If you find that your pancakes are sticking to the pan, add more butter or oil.

Wipe out the pan between batches…especially if you are using butter instead of oil.

Finish cooking any remaining batter.

 

 

 

*********

Storing

Obviously most of us know what to do with the pancakes once you finish cooking them, but did you know that you can also make them ahead of time…instead of resorting to buying already frozen pancakes from the grocery store…

I was kinda shocked to find pancakes stored by the frozen biscuits and frozen breakfast burritos and frozen waffles…wonder how many preservatives are in all of these products, right?

 

To refrigerate…put the pancakes in an airtight container…will stay fresh for up to 5 days

To freeze…flash freeze them and store in large ziplocs…will stay fresh up to 2 months

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Baked Cod

Ever since my husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I have tried not only to add antioxidants to our diet, but also choose foods that supposedly are diabetic-friendly.

The perfect baked cod is has a mild taste and is smothered with with the perfect amounts of butter and lemon juice,

 

 

***********

Ingredients

  • ¼C melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 slices lemon
  • 4 portions cod fish
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon basil

***************

Prepping to Cook

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease a baking dish.

 

 

 

************************

Seasoning the Fish

Combine melted butter, Parmesan, flour, garlic, basil,  onion powder, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice in a bowl.

In another bowl combine flour, spices, salt and pepper.
Pat fish fillet dry.

 

Dip fish in the lemon juice mixture…and then in the flour mixture.

Shake off excess flour.
Lay fish in prepared dish.
Top each piece of fish with a slice of lemon,

 

 

 

**************

Baking the Fish

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Fried Catfish

 

So trust me, fried catfish was a frequent meal at our house…(as well as all sorts of “critters” that you can’t find in your local grocery store)

If we weren’t eating fried fish, we were instead munching down on some good Southern fried chicken and drinking sweet tea.

Although there is much debate as to how catfish should be prepared–such as using a batter, breading with cornmeal, or simply dipping it in flour….I have found that the best way to prepare perfect catfish is to fry it in a cornmeal crush.

So let’s learn the basics of making the perfect fried catfish.

 

***********

Ingredients

 

1-2# catfish—about.4-6 filets

1C milk or buttermilk

1C cornmeal…Use fine, white cornmeal if you can find it….if you can’t find it fin the store, use regular cornmeal with a little flourk added to it so that the crust doesn’t taste gritty.

1/2C flour

Seasoning…you can use whatever makes you smile and keeps you wanting more and more fish—such as Lawry’s to Zatarain’s, Old Bay or lemon pepper— but a good mixture would be…

  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp pepper
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1/2tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1Tbsp salt
    1tsp pepper
  • Cooking oil, preferably peanut oil

 

**************

Getting Ready 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Lay a wire rack sitting on a cookie sheet inside the oven.

Heat oil in a large pot or deep fryer to 350 degrees F.  Make sure that your oil is hot enough…if not you will end up with soggy, greasy catfish.

 

************************

Preparing the Catfish

Rinse the catfish fillets under cold water.

Dry thoroughly with paper towels.  

Soak catfish in milk or buttermilk for about an hour. This will wash away the muddy flavor.

 

 

 

**********************

Breading the Cztfish

Combine cornmeal, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Dredge each filet in the breading until it is coat evenly.

Place on a large platter to dry for about five minutes.

 

 

 

 

*********************

Cooking the Catfish

Now add the breaded catfish to the hot oil. Be careful not to crowd the fryer…otherwise the the oil temperature will drop too much. The oil is ready whenever you drop a little of the dry breading mix into the oi, and if it sizzles at once.

Make sure that there is enough peanut oil to completely cover catfish fillets while frying.

Cook 7min per side…until golden brown.

Watch the temperature of the oil as you continue frying the filets. If the temperature gets too hot, you may need to lower the heat on the burner.

Keep cooked fillets warm in oven while you finish cooking the rest of the fish. This will help keep it crispy.

Place the cooked filets on paper towels to drain.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Eggplant Parmesan

top view photo of vegetables
Photo by John Lambeth on Pexels.com

The perfect Eggplant Parmesan boasts of perfectly cooked eggplant slices perfectly layered with the perfect amounts of mozzarella, Parmesan, basil, and tomato sauce….the ultimate comfort food of Italian cuisine…wonderfully cheesy and tomato-y without weighing you down with too much water or oil.

 

 

***********

Ingredients

2 large eggplants

1tsp salt

1/4C olive oil

1tsp minced garlic

28oz diced tomatoes

1-1/4C grated Parmesan cheese

1½C flour

4 eggs

1-1/2# mozzarella

1 large red onion, chopped

½tsp crushed red pepper flakes

¼C finely chopped basil leaves

3C panko breadcrumbs

1 tsp pepper

1Tbsp Italian seasoning

**********

Prep Work

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

 

 

 

***************

Getting Started

Heat 1Tbsp olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat.

Add the minced garlic, basil, tomatoes, salt, and pepper.

Simmer for 15 minutes,.

Remove from heat.

********************
Prepping the Eggplant

 

 

 

*******************

Cooking the Eggplant

Mist the tops of the eggplant with some olive oil or cooking spray.

Place eggplant slices in the oven. Cook 20 minutes at 425°F, turning the slices over at the half-way point…until nicely browned.

Remove from oven.

Let cool to touch.

 

Once baked or fried, lay the cooked,  lay the slices on wire cooling racks. This will keep your eggplant from getting as soggy.

 

 

*********************

Breading the Eggplant

Set up three  bowls===one for the flour, another one for the egg, and a third one for the breadcrumb mixture.

Pour flour into the first bowl.

Whisk the eggs until smooth. Place in the second bowl.

Stir together the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, 1tsp salt, and Parmesan cheese in the third bowl.

Let the bowls sit out while you are waiting for your eggplant to absorb the salt.

Working one at a time dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour, then dip in the beaten eggs, and then dredge in the breadcrumb parmesan cheese mixture.

Set on a parchment-covered baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.

More information about the breading process can be found in my previous post…Dreading the Breading.

 

***************

Layering the Dish

Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

Place a third of the eggplant rounds in a single layer over the sauce on the bottom of the pan.

Repeat this process three times…kinda like making lasagna.

Sprinkle the top of the dish with the cheese.

 

 

*****************

Baking the Dish

Cover with foil.

Bake on a rimmed baking sheet for about twenty minutes…until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top.

Remove from oven.

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve hot, topped with more chopped fresh basil.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Eggplant…The How

Eggplant has slightly bitter flavor and spongy texture that many people say that they don’t care for, but how many of these people have had eggplant dishes that have been prepared so that the eggplant becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor…so that the eggplant absorbs cooking fats and sauces to enhance its flavor.

Eggplant can be cooked many different ways, including…

  • baking
  • barbecuing
  • currying
  • deep frying
  • grilling
  • pan frying
  • pickling
  • roasting
  • steaming
  • stewing
  • stir-frying

We have already discussed several of these cooking methods in previous posts…such as this posts about Facts to Never Forget about Frying Foods and Pan-Frying 10

In the next few posts we will be looking at the other cooking methods mentioned above as well as some recipes using eggplant….recipes including\ Eggplant Parmesan and Ratatouille.

But before you can make any of these dishes, you must obviously have an eggplant, right?!

When choosing an eggplant, look for one that is firm and somewhat heavy for its size…with smooth, glossy skin and an intense purple color….stay away from any eggplants that are withered, bruised, or discolored.

Once you get your eggplant home, stick it in the refrigerator until ready to use it.

And before you start cooking with eggplant, there are two important facts to remember.

First of all, you need to remove any bitter taste from the eggplant that you can. You can do this by first washing the eggplant, trimming off the green end, and perhaps peeling the skin. This will keep your eggplant from being as bitter and also will keep the eggplant from absorbing too much oil as it is being cooked.

Then slice the eggplant into 1/2″ disks and set them in a colander or on a cooling rack set over baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and let sit for at least 30 minutes. This process is known as “sweating.” Before you start cooking, remove any moisture from the surface of the eggplant,

Another way to keep the eggplant from being so bitter and to help the eggplant maintain its shape as it is being cooked is to soak the eggplant in salt water. This process is called “brining,”

Also always use only a stainless steel knife to cut your eggplant. This will keep the eggplant from turning black.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Chowder

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Chili

The perfect chili will depend on your own person preferences…beans, not beans…beef of chicken…plain or served as chili dogs… burgers topped with chili… (usually without beans)….chili fries…chili mac…or Frito pie and flavored to perfection…(more on this later)…

As we all probably know by now, especially if you live in Texas, chili is a type of spicy stew that not only is great to serve alone…or as

And speaking of chili, chilii made in New York City may taste good…and chili made in Texas may be better…the best chili is made in your own kitchen because you are the boss, and you can choose what ingredients you actually like best, not what somebody thinks you’ll like.

********************

THE INGREDIENTS

The recipe that you actually end up using for your chili will probably vary from one person to the next…based on where you live and what you actually want to be in your chili…(such as beans or no beans)

Since the perfect chili is a matter of person preference, instead of simply giving you one single recipes for the perfect chili, let’s consider some of the ingredients that you could use in chili…so that you can tweak the recipe until you find the perfect chili that is perfectly perfect for you and your family.

 

 

 

*************

THE MEAT

Beef…Most of us like our chili to be good and hearty…probab ly stockpiled with lots of meat…chili con carne…as most of us already know, you can always substitute ground turkey for the ground beef.

Chicken,,,one of my favorite meals is white chicken chili…kinda like my favorite lasagna contains white sauce and chicken…instead of the typicaxl ground beef and red saucer.

No Meat…my daughter has decided to embrace the vegetarian era…meaning that I often have to disappointment my Mississippi husband by making meals that do nit contain any meat…

Pork…Chili can also be made with pork…such as chili verde…a ‘green chili that is made from chunks of pork.

 

 

 

*************

THE PEPPERS

Chili peppers, often in the form of chili powder…which we will talk about later)…is commonly used to spice up your chili.

What makes chili peppers so hot is an ingredient called Capsaicin, the same stuff that’s used to make pepper spray, many pain relief creams, insect-repellentproducts…(yum)…

 

Remember that the white part of the pepper is where most of this capsaicin…especially the seeds.

Five types of  chili peppers rhat you can consider using are…

  • Bell pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Habanero pepper
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Poblano pepper
  • Serrano pepper
  • Thai prepper
  • Wax pepper

As far as if the word is actually “chili” or “chile,” there is no clearcut answer. “Chili ” is typically what most of us call it here in the US, but “Chile” is the the word more often used in Mexico and several other Latin American countries.

Other people prefer to use the word “chile” whenever referring to the pepper, and chili to talk about the stew.

 

 

 

 

****************

THE VEGETABLES

Vegetables, other than tomatoes, can also be good ingredients in your chili—vegetables such as mushrooms, zucchini, corn, squash, and beets…which is why I thought I could get by with a chili recipe while talking about the raw food pyramid, while talking about leafy greens, while talking about smoothies, while talking about antioxidants…if that made any sense)…

 

******************

THE  BEANS

The use of beans in chili has been debated for a very, very long time…especially here in Texas.

In fact the society that “governs” most of the chili cookoffs so populat around America have banned the use of beans in their cook-offs.

Here in Texas. supposedly we eat our chili without beans…(sorry…that doesn[t include me…I like my chili as heartless…I mean hearty…as possible).

While everyone else supposedly like their chili with beans, any type of bean—including

  • black beans
  • blacked-eyed peas
  • great Northern beans
  • kidney beans
  • navy beans
  • pinto beans
  • white beans

As far as chili beans, these are actually pinto or kidney beans that have already been spiced…which will obviously change the taste of the chili from what it would have been if you had used them by themselves.

When using beans, be sure to rinse them first to to remove the extra salt and starches.

 

****************

THE TOMATOES

 

The use of tomatoes…just like the use of beans…whenever making chili has been a topic of debate for a very, very lnog time.

***********

THE SPICES

What actually makes chili chili…at least to me…is the spices that you add…

Without the perfect blend of spices, you simply have another meat dish that contains tomatoes, vegetables, and perhaps beans…

NOT chili!!!

The spices that you use are what give chili its complex flavor.

Recipes exist with all sorts of different spice blends to flavor the chili….but the four most common spices are when making chili are…

  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • oregano
  • paprika
  • Other spices that I’ve seen in chili recipes include cayenne pepper, cinnamon,  dry mustard, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and onion powder.

Any by the way, chili powder is not actually a spice in and of itself…and you can make your own without making a special trip to gT

 

***************

THE TOPPINGS

Toppings that you can add to your chili once it’s finished cooking include…

  • Cheese—such as Monterey Jack, cheddar
  • Cilantro
  • Crackers—such as saltine crackers or oyster crackers
  • Croutons
  • Diced avocado
  • Diced red or green onion
  • Jalapenos
  • Lime wedges
  • Sliced green onions
  • Sour cream
  • Tortilla chips
  • ***********

THE MENU

Foods that go great when served with chili include cornbread,  tortillas, tamales, rice, and pasta.

 

 

 

************

THE RECIPE

Meat

  • 2# ground beef or turkey

Vegetables

  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped

  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion -diced
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced

Spices

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder…OR…2Tbsp cumin, 1/4tsp cayenne pepper -optional, 1tsp oregano, 1/2tsp paprika
  • 2Tbsp sugar or brown sugar
  • 1Tbsp garlic powder or 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp pepper

Tomatoes

  • 2Tbsp tomato paste…OR…8oz tomato sauce
  • 28oz diced tomatoes with juic

Beans

  • 19 oz kidney beans canned, drained & rinsed

Other

  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth…OR…beer
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Toppings as desired

Cook for 6-7 minutes.

Just thought that I would throw that in there before you smart making chili for tonight’s dinner…it would be much better if you make it today and serve it tomorrow.

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.

Add the onion. Cook five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the beef, onions, garlic and some of the chili powder…cook for about seven minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

Drain any fat.

Add remaining ingredients…making sure to stir until well combined.

Bring the liquid to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low or medium-low.

Simmer uncovered for at least twenty minutes….again stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon…the lower your cooking temperature and the longer you cook your chili, the more flavorful it will be.

Simmering you chili uncovered will allow the chili to naturally thicken without having to add cornstarch or flour.

Remove the pot from the heat. Let the chili rest for at least five minutes before serving.

Top with cheddar cheese, green onions, cilantro or other favorite toppings.

Leftovers…assuming there are any…will last from three to five days.

Freezing Chili…Chili can be frozen either in single sized portions for lunches or in freezer bags for a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Remember…If all else fails, you can always run back to Kroger or Albertson’s or Tom Thumb…or order from Instacart…to get some canned chili…people have been doing this since 1908 when chili first started being canned and sold in New Braufels, Texas…
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Broccoli…The What

Another vegetable with high antioxidant properties is broccoli.

Broccoli is the most common member of the family tree called cruciferous vegetables, a family that includes Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage., collards, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens. You may hear this family referred to as either the “mustard family” or the “cabbage family.”

Broccoli firsts started out as a type of wild cabbage way back during the Roman times, when it was enjoyed immensely by the Romans.

Broccoli did not gain popularity until the 1920’s, even though it had been ntroduced to the United States during colonial times,

The word “broccoli” is derived from an Italian word meaning “branch” or “arm,” which is a perfect description of its blossom-bearing, cross-shaped stems that resemble mini trees

There are several different types of broccoli, including…

  • Broccoflower,…a pale green hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower..
  • Broccolini ,,,baby broccoli that is a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale
  • Broccoli raab… this vegetable does not have the tree-like “heads” we’re used to, but instead has the same florets but on longer and thinner stems. I
  • Broccoli rapini,…this vegetable has fewer florets and a mustard-like flavor Chinese

Most broccoli grown in the United States comes from either California

China is the country that produces the most broccoli per year, over 8 million tons per year.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Refrigerator Jam

*************

The Ingredients

  • Fruit of choice…such as strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, peach,
  • 1Tbsp lemon juice
  • large pinch salt
  • 2-1/4C sugar
  • 1 box (1-3/4oz SURE-JELL
  • 3/4C water

 

***************

Preparing the Fruit

When buying your fruit, make sure to buy only firm, perfectly ripe fruit. Only the best fruit will give you the best flavor and consistency.

First wash the fruit and remove any stems or peels.

Pick through berries, discarding any soft or rotten ones.

Chop the fruit into large chunks if you feel like you need to…obviously raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries can all remain whole.

Mash the fruit, using a potato masher or fork. How much you smoosh the fruit will depend on just how chunky you want your jam to be.

Add sugar to the crushed fruit.

Let sit for at least ten minutes, while you are making the topping…stirring occasionally.

********************

Making Your Base

 

First place a couple metal spoons in the freezer…(you’ll see why a little later)…

Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Let boil for 1min.

Let the jam cook for about twenty minutes.

Use a candy thermometer to see if your jam has cooked long enough or not. Cook until the thermometer reads 220ºF.

If adding any fresh herbs—such as basil, mint, or thyme—to your jam, add them during the last few minutes of the cooking process so that they retain their bright flavor.

Remove saucepan from heat.

Don’t expect your finished jam to be as firm as traditionally processed jam…this will actually make the jam easier to spread onto your toast, biscuits, or whatever.

******************

Sterilizing the Jars

While you are waiting for your jam to finish cooking, take the time to sterilize your jars.

To do this, thoroughly wash these jars, their lids and their screw bands….then put them into a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 15min.

Turn off the heat. Leave the jars, lids, and bands in the hot water until ready to use.

 

 

*************

Filling Your Jars

 

Use tongs to lift the jars, lids, and screw bands from the water, Dry them thoroughly.

Ladle the hot jam carefully into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/2″ space between the jam and the top of the jar.

Screw the lids on the tops of the jars tightly.

Wipe any jam from the rims of the jars with a wet paper towel.

Let the jars set out on the counter at room temperature overnight.

The jam will stay good in the fridge for up to three weeks….or in the freezer for up to one year. If you freeze it, let it thaw out in your refrigerator before using.f