Tag Archive | Recipes

It’s National Farmer’s Market Week!

FRESH, FRUIT AND FUN

By Mia Epsilon

FW1

It’s National Farmer’s Market Week! It’s time to celebrate those ‘little guys’ who mean so much to all of us. America, the UK and many other countries survive because of Farmers, yet next to Teachers (sorry, personal opinion and bias here) they are the most unappreciated and certainly lowest paid people in the world. Think about the food you eat. If it grows in the ground, either on a tree, bush, vine or dirt, you can thank a farmer.

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So what exactly is a ‘farmer’s market’? The word is as familiar to me as my own name; I grew up in a rural area and my family was farmers. My summers were spent helping in the garden, sucking corn, picking beans and going on the hunt for blackberries which grew in abundance wild joyous freedom. Where I live now is the largest apple producing area in the state, second in the nation in production and first in the types of apples produced. ‘Apple Country’ has over two hundred different types of apples: from ‘pink ladies’ to Arkansas blacks’ to ‘golden delicious’. I also live in the state number one in production of sweet potatoes. Blackberries, strawberries and raspberries still, where unchecked, grow in joyous spreading freedom. I’m blessed.FW3

But I digress. A Farmer’s Market is where local farmers take their harvest ‘to market’. There are numerous types: small tables set along the road to huge warehouse type ‘stores’. But the one thing they have in common: everything is local grown, local produced and healthier than anything you will ever buy in a conventional store. I love my Farmers’ Markets here. And yes, that’s plural: we have several. There’s the ‘really big one’ near the only big town in these mountains, with over one thousand local farmers and growers, everything from corn and beans to flowers and herbs, organic to still picked by hand, livestock like cows and pigs to chickens and goats. It’s an almost overwhelming explosion of color, scents and sounds.FW4

Yet my favorite Farmer’s Market’s are the small ones. The ones where the farmers, their wives, and children see me coming and call me by name. These are the hard workers, the very backbone of any nation who keep us fed and happy. They show me the freshest, “just picked thirty minutes ago, hun” and the best deals “we’re doing two bundles because the fresh is about to go off” and don’t mind if I thump a melon to test it or pinch a carrot. I once bought fresh eggs and in my friendly chatting with the wife, I drove off without the eggs. The farmer’s son followed me for ten miles, flashing his lights until I pulled over and he could hand me the eggs.FW5

My favorite finds are Farmers’ Markets are the vegetables. And the fruits. But especially the flowers. I may not always buy the bouquets, but there’s something about seeing the happy faces of sunflowers or wildflowers which makes it impossible not to smile back. ‘Happiness Grows From the Ground Up’ is a sign hanging from the flowers’ farmer’s table. His name is Walter and he started growing flowers for his British wife because she missed her English garden so much when he married her at the end of World War 2 and brought her back to his home. She died ten years ago and now Walter sells his flowers to make other wives and sisters and daughters happy. How’s that for a beautiful story?

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When my children were small, we had a huge garden in the backyard and we continued the family tradition of ‘growing your own’. For some reason rhubarb grows like crazy here, and I don’t like it. My neighbors beside me love it and they trade me all the rhubarb they want for all the sweet potatoes I want. My neighbor also makes the world’s most incredible applesauce and supplies me, to this day, with dozens of jars every fall. I used to joke it wouldn’t be fall without Marilyn and her ‘sauce’; she is older now, and I know the fall is coming where there won’t be her sauce to enjoy over warm gingerbread on a cold winter night. She knows it, too, because she shared her recipe with me and gave her permission for me to share it with you.

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Pre Plowed and Planted Garden Spot

In addition to the garden, we raised chickens, turkeys, pigs, goats, bees and ducks. We also had a horse and rabbits. My graduation from college gift was twenty five baby ducklings from my neighbors. My kids named them all so they couldn’t be eaten. “If they have a name, they aren’t food”, my eight year old son reasoned. And Huey, Dewy, Louie, Sonny, Cher, Brittany, Madonna, King, Queen, Princess, U2, Nickelback, Donald, Daisy, Daffy and friends lived contentedly many years never in fear of a roasting pot. The turkeys were for the church Thanksgiving dinner; the pig was winter supplies, the bees gave honey and the chickens gave the fresh eggs a family of nine needed. The rabbits were pets and the goats gave milk. Behind our house and yard is an apple orchard where we ‘pick our own’. Yes, blessed.

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I don’t consider myself an excellent cook, but I’ll gladly share a few recipes I’ve discovered from the Farmers’ Markets or made with foods from the there. Please note I say ‘to your own preference or taste’. I’m an experimental cook; sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Food is all about what *you* prefer or your taste buds, so modify these to your own choice and preference. Visit a local Farmers Market and support a small farmer. They will thank you and so will your taste buds and body.

ROASTED VEGETABLES

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Vegetables (your choice, your favorites) cut into chunks (keep in mind big chunks roast slower and often ‘burn’ before the middle is tender; small chunks roast faster and need less time)

Olive oil (I could put an amount, but really, it’s preference

Spices (I use fresh ground garlic, thyme and oregano)

Roasting pan (I use a ‘cookie sheet’) lined with foil or parchment paper

1. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees (sorry I don’t know UK equals. What you roast meat at). I’ve found this to be the ideal temp; any higher tends to burn the veggies before they are tender.

2. Cut vegetables and toss with olive oil. Make sure all are evenly covered in the oil (not ‘dripping, but wet).

3. Place vegetables on the pan. I put ‘hard’ vegetables like beets and potatoes together and ‘tender’ ones like peppers and mushrooms together. Make sure they are spread out, not overlapping and the pan is covered.

4. Sprinkle with spices. (As a note, roasted beets sprinkled with just thyme and ginger are omg good).

5. Roast until tender. This will vary according to your oven, if it’s raining outside, etc. Figure for tender vegetables about 10-15 minutes and 30-45 for harder vegetables.

6. Let cool 5 minutes and dig in. These also freeze well and will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.

See? Easy.

MARILYN’S SAUCE

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Your Favorite Kind of Apples (she also uses ginger golds or red delicious; I use golden delicious). If using the slow cooker as I do, I find 8-10 medium to large apples is enough.

Spices: Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Ginger (It’s to taste and what you like)

Water (again, preference; she adds 1/2 cup for ‘thinner’ sauce. I don’t for thicker sauce)

1. Peel apples if desired and cut into bite sized chunks.

2. Place in slow cooker (I spray mine first with cooking spray or rub it with olive oil so apples don’t stick).

3. Sprinkle on spices and let cook on low 6-8 hours. I don’t recommend high because to me the apples taste ‘burned’. Your house will smell INCREDIBLE.

4. Remove and blender away chunks you don’t want. The apples should be tender and usually ‘melt’ but some harder types may not. I don’t mind the chunks but if you do, blender.

5. Enjoy! I love this over warm gingerbread. Also makes a great topper to baked potatoes or roasted pork.

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Stir with a cinnamon and mmm mmm

 

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Mia Epsilon is a dedicated Farmers Market shopper and swears the taste difference between something local and something shipped in can be tasted by any dedicated tongue. She no longer has the ‘family farm and zoo’; but still enjoys growing many of her own fruits and vegetables. She lives in the gorgeous and fruitful area of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina, commonly called the Appalachian area.

Mia is the author of Wedding Belle Blues, a contemporary romantic comedy released in June of 2014 and Leave Your Hat On, a short story available as part of a limited hard cover edition of tales inspired by the classic story Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Also look for the second and third books in the ‘Weddings by C & C series’ Take a Chance on Me and That Night coming Fall 2014.

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Spring Brings Eternal Hope by Cindy Christiansen

Spring Flowers

 

Spring is God’s way of saying ‘One more time!’

– Robert Orben

 

 

 

 

Spring Brings Eternal Hope

by Cindy Christiansen

 

There is something magical about spring. The earth warms and brightens, seeds sprout and grow into a gorgeous colorful array of flowers, grass turns a vibrant green, and trees bud new leaves. I think more than any time of the year, spring gives me hope—a rebirth to accomplish new and wondrous things—to start anew.

Many celebrate each new year as a time to set goals and move forward. But there is something incredible about the rebirth of the earth that fills me with hope and optimism that life brings new choices and opportunities never before considered.

Reach out and touch those dreams. Wipe clean your slates and refresh your hearts. It’s a new day!

One of the first vegetables you can grow and harvest in the spring is peas! Oh, how I remember harvesting the peas early in the morning on our farm, sitting on the lawn grass underneath the shade trees podding peas. My older sister would eat more than she put into her bucket. My dad was just as bad. Mom would have to get after both of them. Soon the podding, blanching and packaging was complete, but Mom always saved a few out for a fresh pea salad. I share that recipe with you today in memory of happy spring days and future spring days that sprout new hopes, dreams and visions.

Fresh Pea Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh peas
  • 8 slices of bacon or 1/2 cup Hormel Real Crumbled Bacon
  • 2/3 cup chopped onions
  • 3/4 to 1 cup Ranch dressing
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 head lettuce

Directions:

1. If using strips of bacon: Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. If using already prepared bacon, measure 1/2 cup.

2. In a large bowl, combine and mix all the above ingredients except for lettuce.

3. Refrigerate pea dressing for 30 minutes or until chilled before serving. (We never can wait that long.)

4. Wash and dry lettuce (I use a salad spinner. Mom didn’t have one.) Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces in large bowl.

5. Pour pea dressing over lettuce and toss. Enjoy!

About Cindy: 

Cindy A. Christiansen writes sweet romance with humor, suspense…and dogs! With over thirty health issues and two autistic children, she struggles to write but finds it cathartic. She loves going where only her characters can take her. She loves dogs and always includes them in her books and features them on her covers. She donates time and money to organizations that help abused and abandoned dogs. She lives with her wonderful family and delightful dogs in West Jordan, UT.

 

Irish Beef Stew by Tricia Andersen

From Christina: Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Usually I fix the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal…but this year, I wanted to be a little different. Fortunately, author Tricia Andersen stepped in to offer her recipe for Irish Beef Stew. This is what we’ll be having on the 17th! I wanted to share it here a few days ahead of the holiday so that you’ll have time to do a bit of grocery shopping too if you’d like to serve this for your family and friends.

 

Irish Beef Stew Recipe

Since both my husband and I are both part Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal in our house.  I get a little crazy and try to make a special dinner for my family.  A couple of years ago I found this Irish Beef Stew Recipe on AllRecipes.com.  I hope it’s a hit with your family like it is with mine!

Quick note from Christina: The recipe calls for stout beer. Since no one in our family imbibes, I’m planning to substitute beef broth with maybe a pinch of ginger and/or Worcestershire sauce.  Below the recipe I’ve included an “alcohol substitution” link.  

Beef StewIngredients

Original recipe makes 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 white onion, cut into large chunks

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups beef broth

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle Irish stout beer (e.g. Guinness®)

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

 

Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss beef cubes with flour to coat, then fry in the hot oil until browned. Place the carrots, potatoes, onion and garlic in a large slow cooker. Place the meat on top of the vegetables. Mix together the beef broth and tomato paste and pour into the slow cooker along with the beer.

Cover and cook on High for 6 hours or Low for 8 hours. During the last hour before serving, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water and then stir into the broth. Simmer on the High setting for a few minutes to thicken.

 Alcohol Substitutes for Cooking

 

Broccoli Fritters by Ann B Harrison

From Christina: While spring is almost upon us here in this hemisphere, our friends “down under” are looking forward to the cooler days of autumn. Either way — spring, fall, or any other time of the year — good food is always appreciated. Today, Australian author Ann B Harrison drops by to share one of her favorite recipes.

Broccoli Fritters

by Ann B Harrison

One of my favourite meals to make is fritters. When I came across a healthy version I knew I had to make them for lunch. Just so happens I was invited over to spend the day with a fellow writer working out our game plans for the next new releases and I thought, ‘what a great easy meal to take along with a salad.’

Seems I made the right move, because my host was thrilled with them. They are very “more-ish” so I suggest you double the mixture.

Broccoli Fritters

Quick Note from Christina:  Ann’s recipe uses metric measurements.  American cooks, please note that the amount of flour would be about 1 cup with an additional 1/3 cup reserved. The amount of cheese would be about 1/2 cups.

See link below for basic measurement conversions. 

Ingredients (makes 8 fritters)

1 medium sized broccoli

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 eggs

1 small bunch of parsley, chopped

150 grams of gluten free flour or buckwheat flour (put an extra 50 grams aside in case mixture is too wet)

80 grams of feta cheese

1/2 cup of pine nuts

1 lemon

Salt and pepper

Dash of olive/coconut oil

Method

1. Chop up the broccoli finely and steam for 5 minutes.

2. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the flour, garlic, salt and pepper and parsley.

3. Chop up the feta cheese into small cubes and place into the mixture.

4. Place the pine nuts in a fry pan on a low heat and gently roast for 4-7 minutes or until pine nuts are slightly golden. Once cooked add them to the mixture.

5. Before adding the broccoli into the mixture make sure it is finely sliced. I found that I needed to add an extra 50 grams of flour to the mixture as it was too wet.

6. Heat a large frying pan over moderate heat and add a dash of oil.

7. Scoop 1 large tablespoon of mixture into the frying pan, then flatten it slightly with a spatula. The mixture should make around 8 fritters. Cook the fritters for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden.

8. Place fritters onto a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

9. Drizzle with lemon juice before serving. Enjoy!

Converting Grams to Cups

About Ann:

Ann swears she was born with a book in her hands and has never put it down. A lifelong love of reader has finally culminated in achieving her dream of writing…and publication. She lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley with her own handsome hero of many years. Ann has always loved the ups and downs of life in small communities and she shares this with readers in her rural romances. When not writing Ann enjoys reading, gardening, walking her very large dog Hugo and fighting with her computer.

Winter Chill – Delicious Chili by A J Best

From Christina: Bet you didn’t know that today is National Chili Day! I wouldn’t have known it either if my buddy A J Best hadn’t sent me a calendar listing lots of little known holidays and celebrations.  She’s a delightful friend, one who’s always willing to share. One cold winter’s morning, as we chatted online about food and recipes, she shared a simple, but delicious recipe for — wait for it — CHILI!  So, when I scanned the list of February’s “special days” and saw National Chili Day, I quickly asked AJ if she’d share the recipe again with Time for Love readers.

Winter Chill – Delicious Chili

By A J Best

Winter. It’s supposed to be pristine, white, sparkly and beautiful. Children are supposed to be outside playing Norman Rockwellesque, all happy and smiling. But if winter where you are is anything like winter where I am is, it’s a little grey and dreary. Here in the middle of the middle of nowhere, it’s <expletive removed> cold!

 

Winter Image from Tami

 

 So, what does a homebody do when it’s miserably cold and the family is stuck in front of the TV/computer? She makes chili! Come into my kitchen and I’ll show you how to make chili the easy way. You’ll be back in front of the fire cuddled with a book in no time.

 Super Simple Chili Recipe

1 pound ground meat (turkey, venison, beef, etc.)

2 cans beans (dark/light red kidney, black beans, etc.)

1 large can of diced tomatoes

1 jar salsa (in any heat level you choose, we go mild because of the kids)

Brown ground meat. If it’s a fattier type meat, drain grease. Open cans with can openers, open jar with hands. Pour cans, undrained, into pot. Pour salsa into pot. Stir. Eat.

* * * *

Really, it’s that easy. No muss no fuss.

I’d love to know what comfort foods you make when it’s just too bloody cold to go outside. Leave the recipe, I’d love to try it.

Thanksgiving — Better than Christmas by Stacy Moran

Christmas tops the list of “favorite holidays” for many people, but not for romance writer Stacy Moran. Today, she shares a few thoughts — and a special recipe — for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving — Better than Christmas

Thanksgiving. I love it more than Christmas, and here’s why.

Thanksgiving is getting absorbed by the Christmas festivities and shopping before it ever has a chance to be truly enjoyed.

With the Christmas season coming earlier and earlier every year, Thanksgiving is becoming known more as “the day before Black Friday” than an actual holiday. Christmas is swelling to monstrous proportions, swallowing Thanksgiving. Retailers are even staying open on Thanksgiving in order to beat competition’s sales.

A holiday that is in some ways controversial, but to me is the best time of year, is disappearing.

To me Thanksgiving is about…

  1. Family
  2. Amazing Food
  3. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  4. Gone with the Wind (my family tradition)
  5. A room filled with napping people
  6. The smell of turkey and pumpkin pies
  7. The start of colder weather
  8. Charlie Brown
  9. Memories of childhood
  10. Leftovers

This year take a moment and remember your childhood, watch the parade, play football in the yard, savor Grandma’s stuffing, and just appreciate the day.

To make the day a bit easier here is my “go-to” recipe for moist turkey.

Turkey Dinner

INGREDIENTS

One Turkey, approx. 15 lbs.

Juice of a lemon

Salt and pepper

Melted butter

Tops and bottoms of a bunch of celery

2 carrots

Parsley

Sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme

METHOD

Step One

To start, if the turkey has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before cooking. Keep it in its plastic wrapping until you are ready to cook it. While in the refrigerator, and or while you are bringing it to room temp, have the bird resting in a pan, so that if the plastic covering leaks for any reason, you are confining the juices to the pan.

Handle a raw turkey with the same amount of caution as when you handle raw chicken – use a separate cutting board and utensils to avoid contaminating other foods. Wash your hands with soap before touching anything else in the kitchen. Use paper towels to clean up.

Remove the neck and giblets (heart, gizzard, liver). Use the heart and gizzard for making stock for the stuffing. The neck can be cooked alongside the turkey or saved for turkey soup. Or all of the giblets can be used for making giblet gravy.

Step Two

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Step Three

Wash out the turkey with water. Pull out any remaining feather stubs in the turkey skin. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Lather the inside of the cavity with the juice of half a lemon. Take a small handful of salt and rub all over the inside of the turkey.

Step Four

For flavor, put in inside the turkey, a bunch of parsley, a couple of carrots, and some tops and bottoms of celery. You may need to cap the body cavity with some aluminum foil so that the stuffing doesn’t easily fall out. Close up the turkey cavity with either string (not nylon string!) or metal skewers. Make sure that the turkey’s legs are tied together, held close to the body, and tie a string around the turkey body to hold the wings in close.

Step Five

Rub either melted butter all over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle salt generously all over the outside of the turkey (or have had it soaking in salt-water brine before starting this process). Sprinkle pepper over the turkey.


Step Six

Place turkey BREAST DOWN on the bottom of a rack over a sturdy roasting pan big enough to catch all the drippings. This is the main difference between the way mom makes turkey and everyone else. Cooking the turkey breast down means the skin over the breast will not get so brown. However, all of the juices from the cooking turkey will fall down into the breast while cooking. And the resulting bird will have the most succulent turkey breast imaginable.

Add several sprigs of fresh (if possible) thyme and rosemary to the outside of the turkey.

Step Seven

Chop up the turkey giblets (gizzard, heart). Put into a small saucepan, cover with water, add salt. Bring to simmer for an hour or so to help make stock for the stuffing.

Step Eight

Put the turkey in the oven. Check the cooking directions on the turkey packaging. Gourmet turkeys often don’t take as long to cook. With the turkeys mom gets, she recommends cooking time of about 15 minutes for every pound. For the 15 lb. turkey, start the cooking at 400 F for the first 1/2 hour. Then reduce the heat to 350 F for the next 2 hours. Then reduce the heat further to 225 F for the next hour to hour and a half.

If you want the breast to be browned as well, you can turn the bird over so that the breast is on top, and put it in a 500°F oven or under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, just enough to brown the breast. Note that if you do this, you will have a higher risk of overcooking the turkey breast.

Start taking temperature readings with a meat thermometer, inserted deep into the thickest part of the turkey breast and thigh, an hour before the turkey should be done. You want a resulting temperature of 175°F for the dark meat (thighs and legs) and 165°F for the white meat (breast). The temperature of the bird will continue to rise once you take it out of the oven, so take it out when the temperature reading for the thigh is 170°F, and for the breast 160°F. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, spear the breast with a knife. The turkey juices should be clear, not pink.

Step Nine 

Once you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Turn the turkey breast side up to carve it.

kristin-emery-family-and-friends

Once again remember the point of the day is to enjoy and be thankful for your  family, friends, and the amazing food prepared.

About Stacy Moran: 

Stacy  was born in West Virginia but now finds herself living in Texas. She has loved writing since she wrote her first book in the first grade, The Land Without Rules. Her mother will tell you it was a brilliant piece of literature.

An author of several genres, she prefers to combine the mainstream genres of paranormal and gothic romance with elements of erotic, mythology and fantasy.

Her most recent works include, Blood Myth (The Myth Series), Sekhmet’s Revenge, The Lotus, and a series of erotic shorts,  Temptation Tuesdays. You can find her books on Amazon.

SAM

Readers can find Stacy online at her official website, at her blog, and on Facebook. 

Official Site of Stacy A. Moran

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