Perfect Baked Potatoes

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Perfectly Cooked Baked Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes or Yams with Soft Skins

To me, it’s important to buy organic produce, especially if I’m going to eat the skins.

Place your washed sweet potato, yam or white potato on a piece of foil large enough to wrap completely cover and seal the potato. Rub liberally with a good oil. I used a organic avocado oil. Salt and pepper the potato to taste. Seal the potato and bake until soft. Potatoes can be cooked along side of a variety of dishes that cook at different temperatures between about 300 to 450 degrees. Obviously the higher the temperature the quicker they cook. Hot potato so carefully remove the foil. It’s ready to eat or you can add butter, sour cream and chives. Salsa is delicious on potatoes or a scoop of chili with all the fixings!

Oil, salt and pepper the potatoes then wrap in tinfoil.

Oil, salt and pepper the potatoes then wrap in tinfoil.

Seal the potatoes in tin foil.

Seal the potatoes in tin foil.

Mushroom Soup - Quick + Earthy

I can make this soup in about 30 minutes. It’s rich and filling. It is a vegetarian recipe that is gluten free with vegan options.

I use organic whenever possible

I use organic whenever possible

It’s all about the mushrooms -

I use fresh frozen and dried and whatever I have on hand. Any combination always comes out delicious.

Frozen mushrooms don’t need to thaw.

Dried mushrooms - soak in water for about 15 minutes. I forage morel’s and dry them.

Fresh mushrooms - simply wipe any dirt off fresh mushrooms with a soft cloth. You don’t need to thaw frozen mushrooms.

Tips

You can use Better Than Bouillon Mushroom Base. It’s saltier than most box broths, so adjust salt to taste.

Vegan’s can add vegetable broth, omit the butter and use your favorite plain nut milk.

Add a little sherry to liven up the flavors

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche or chopped chives

Serve with a crisp green salad or grilled cheese sandwich.

My friend Lynn says “Every soup begins with leeks.” This soup starts with leeks and then I add celery

My friend Lynn says “Every soup begins with leeks.” This soup starts with leeks and then I add celery

Rich and Creamy Mushroom Soup

Ingredients

Mushrooms - 2 cups - any combination of fresh, frozen and/or dried - chopped
Celery -2-6 ribs - I like celery so go for 6 ribs and include some of the leaves - sliced
Leeks -  1-2 stalks - washed and chopped
Garlic - 3-6 cloves - peeled and minced
Thyme - 1 tsp dry fresh or 1 tbsp dried
Olive oil -1 tablespoon
Butter - 1 tablespoon (omit for vegan and add another tablespoon of olive oil)
Mushroom broth - 1 box
Heavy cream - 1 pint (omit for vegan or use your favorite unsweetened nut milk)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Saute leeks, celery and garlic in oil and butter until translucent. Add thyme and mushrooms and cook until soft. Add mushroom broth and heavy cream. Heat and serve.

Beautiful mushroom soup!

Beautiful mushroom soup!

I add my herbs when sauteing. I thinks they infuse their flavors into the veggies.

I add my herbs when sauteing. I thinks they infuse their flavors into the veggies.

Tips

I stock up on mushroom broth, but you can substitute chicken or vegetable broth.

Milk: I rarely have fresh milk, but keep a supply of canned evaporated milk, boxed unsweetened nut or hemp milks. I even a boxed whipped cream. I use what works for the recipe and more importantly my taste.

Butter: I keep a back up pound of butter in my freezer.

Vegetables: I almost always have fresh carrots, celery, onions and garlic in the refrigerator. Add a minced carrot for color and sweet

Mushrooms: I forage morels that I dry and store in quart jars. I buy portabella and cremini when they are on sale and I know I'll have time to process them. Wipe the mushroom free of dirt, slice and place on parchment paper is a cool dry location. Turn every 12 hours (or so) until dry. Store in canning jars. Rehydrate in water or broth until soft and ready to use.  Or slice and freeze.

For more information on drying mushrooms the Mushroom Appreciation has several methods.  https://www.mushroom-appreciation.com/drying-mushrooms.html

Re-hydrating Dried Mushrooms only takes 15 Minutes

Put dried mushroom in a bowl of water to rehydrate.

Put dried mushroom in a bowl of water to rehydrate.

Morels after about 15 minutes. Plump and ready to use.

Morels after about 15 minutes. Plump and ready to use.

Brenda Eastman - Artist - Vegan Breakfast Muffin

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I first met Brenda Eastman in 2007 when she and Nickki Lee Hill were working on a project they called Wild Flowers of Weed. It was an arts presentation with images by Nickki and biographies by Brenda. The show was a powerful telling of the diverse community that is Weed, CA. Since then we have worked together on several projects. We have co-curated shows at Liberty Arts, a contemporary art gallery in Yreka and we collaborated with ceramic sculpture, Candace Miller on a show we called TriMorphic-three distinct perspectives on the human condition that traveled from Liberty Arts to the Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir. I continue to admire Brenda’s art work and her commitment to the arts and arts scene in Siskiyou County and look forward to working with her on future projects.

Link here to Brenda’s Favorite Movie Scenes about Food.

Biker - Brenda Eastman 1991

Biker - Brenda Eastman 1991

Lauri: How long have you been an artist?
Brenda: I believe I've been an artist prior to any memory. Both parents are creative. There was always musical instruments around being played, something being build, crafted, or sewed. At any moment if any of us wanted to paint a watercolor for example, the materials to stretch the paper, easel, paint, brushes, and a place to do it was ready to go. Every part of my life felt creative from sewing an new garment to making tiny interiors for my Barbies. Throughout school years there were teachers along the way who recognized my direction and encouraged it or even employed it within the classroom.

Lauri: How do you keep the creative juices flowing?
Brenda: It feels like the creative juice is always there. My challenge is usually directing it towards just one projects rather than 5 at a time. I'm getting slightly better at this with age.

Old Glow 1993 Brenda Eastman

Old Glow 1993 Brenda Eastman

Lauri: Did you go to school to do what you do? What was the most valuable thing you learned?
Brenda: I did pursue art in college, although looking back I feel I did not have good direction of how I might use it in a career. The most valuable things I learned at COS were the various techniques I never would have been able to try on my own such as printmaking because of the access to large scale presses, and at UC Davis I worked mostly in large scale ceramics because of the huge walk-in sized kilns available. But I suppose the biggest lesson of all came after college as I tried in vain to find a job using my new art degree. Then something totally unexpected came about. An Interior design group took me in recognizing my creative skills. It was fun and a whole new set of creative knowledge I was happy to take in.

Lauri: You are a body worker doing deep tissue massage and most of your drawing are of the human form. I think it’s an interesting confluence. How does bodywork influence your artwork?
Brenda: There were a couple of major career changes that happened between 2000 and 2002. The first was an unexpected offer to do concept art for a game developer back up here in Northern California. This was a total dream job! I'd have creative meetings with the developer and then take the brainstorming to paper and bring his ideas of characters and creatures to life. At the end of '01 they lost funding and that's when I decided that in order to stay in this area I'd switch direction and get certified in Massage Therapy. It's something that had been in the back of my mind for a long time. This turned out to be a perfect marriage between my love of the figure in my art, and knowing and understanding the human machine from an anatomical perspective. Because of my hands-on understanding of muscle, bone, joints and even how the human moves, it's made me a much better figurative artist.

Chrysalis 2011 - pencil drawing by Brenda Eastman

Chrysalis 2011 - pencil drawing by Brenda Eastman

Lauri: What are you working on now?
Brenda: Next up, I'm finally swinging back to color and painting after many years working in black and white. I want to explore what it might look like as our human culture separates further from the natural world. I feel the more we humans detach from the part of ourselves that is animal and of this earth, the more we will loose ourselves.

Self Portrait, Brenda Eastman 2018

Self Portrait, Brenda Eastman 2018

Lauri: What is you favorite part of a dinner party?
Brenda: My favorite part of a dinner party is when the conversation, sharing, and comradery begins to flow, and everyone relaxes into the moment.

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Vegan Breakfast Muffin

This is a nice easy recipe that can be tweaked super easy if you want to change out flour types or add goodies like nuts or dried fruit.


Ingredients

1 cup organic flour of choice ( I mix rice, amaranth, corn and millet flours)
1 cup organic oats
1 Tbs double acting baking powder (non-aluminum)
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1/3 cup local honey
1 smashed banana or applesauce
4 Tbs virgin coconut oil or oil of choice
2 Tbs ground flax seeds
1 cup organic coconut milk or milk of choice
As much or as little as you like: fun stuff like raisins  ans walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spoon into mini muffin pan (oiled and floured). Bake approx. 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Miso Soup - quick + healthy

Miso Soup - according to Japanese mythology, miso is a gift to mankind from the gods to assure health, longevity and happiness.

Miso Soup - according to Japanese mythology, miso is a gift to mankind from the gods to assure health, longevity and happiness.

Miso Soup - The basics

The only thing you really need to make miso soup is hot water and miso. Below are some suggestions and directions you can use to make a heartier soup.

Ingredients

Vegetables - Use what you have raw, cooked, or frozen. Cut raw veggies into bite size pieces. Cabbage, peas, mushrooms and green beans all work well with a quick Miso Soup.

Protein - Tofu is traditional, cut into small cubes. This is a good use for leftover chicken, just cut into bite side cubes.

Noodles - Udon (buckwheat noodles). Thai Rice noodles are good choices. They are available in the International aisle of most markets.

Miso - White miso is milder in flavor and is often served in the summer and for breakfast. Red miso has a stronger richer flavor that is welcome in the cooler months. Do not boil miso.

Garnish - Green onions, shredded raw carrots or chives.

Directions

Your goal is to have a bowlful of perfectly cooked vegetables, noodles in a pot of hot water. That’s when you add the miso, mix well, garnish and serve.

Cook raw vegetables in boiling water. Don’t add salt. Cook noodles and heat any tofu, left overs, etc. Add miso. You don’t want to miso to boil.

I put my miso in my serving bowl and ladle a tablespoon or two of hot water into the bowl and begin to dilute the miso. Then add it back into the hot water. It can take some stirring to melt the miso into the hot water. Do not boil the miso.

What is Miso?

There are days when I want something warm and healthy and I want it quickly. Miso soup is a go-to meal for me. it’s warming and makes me feel like I’ve done something healthy for myself.

Doing research on miso I came across www.Soya.be a website that, “offers general information about soy and recipes with soy and explains how to make your own soy products. We search the market, mainly Belgium and the Netherlands, for newly launched soy products and provide reviews.”

Soya.be states that Miso “can be traced to China as far back as the 4th century BC. A seasoning, called Hisio, was a paste resulting from the fermenting a mixture of soybeans, wheat, alcohol and salt. The written word, miso, first appeared around 800.

In Japan, miso was introduced the 7th century by Buddhist monks. The process of making miso was furher refined and it became a necessary part of the samurai diet. With the widespread cultivation of rice, miso has become a staple food for Japanese people. Over the centuries, different types of miso were developed, often named after the province where it originated.”

Red and White Miso - I purchased these at Berryvale Grocery in Mount Shasta.

Red and White Miso - I purchased these at Berryvale Grocery in Mount Shasta.

There are many variations of miso, which are basically all made from koji mixed with either rice, barley or soy beans. The ingredients are fermented and aged in wooden kegs. Some of the lighter sweet miso is aged for only a few months, while the darker miso may be aged for up to 2 years.

Miso is paste made of fermented soy beans. The fermentation process turns soy beans into amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars. Miso can be made with other grains, but soy miso is the most readily available. I recommend trying different miso varieties…so far I haven’t found one I don’t like. White miso is milder in flavor with the dark reds being the strongest flavor.

Apple Chutney – spicy + sweet

Peeled tart green apples -

Peeled tart green apples -

Chutney is a spicy condiment made of fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar, originating in India. You can use this Indian condiment to add a spicy complex favor to many dishes. It can be made with fruits like apple, pear, mangoes, apricots and tomatoes.

I used the recipes from The Joy of Cooking and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest to make this batch, because right now I have apples. I adapted the recipes to my tastes. Additionally, there are many recipes are available on-line.

I received a copy of  The Joy of Cooking  from my Sister-in-Law Peggy in 1993 it’s decorated by my Niece Emily

I received a copy of The Joy of Cooking from my Sister-in-Law Peggy in 1993 it’s decorated by my Niece Emily

Ingredients

3 lbs, Apples peeled, cored and cut into a ½-inch dice
2 medium onions, chopped
1 cups Apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup raisins chopped - golden or currents will all work, too
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp Cloves powder
½ Red pepper flakes or to taste
½ teaspoon mustard powder

Directions

Chop the apples and onions so that they are about the same size. Put everything in a Crock Pot on high for 1 hour stirring occasionally. Then on low for about 4 hours. Ladle into jars and water bath 10 minutes or refrigerate.

Apple Chutney 2018 - An abundance of worm-free apples is helping store apple preserves like Chutney and  Apple Butter (my recipe here )

Apple Chutney 2018 - An abundance of worm-free apples is helping store apple preserves like Chutney and Apple Butter (my recipe here )

Delicious when serve with fish, pork or chicken. Add a teaspoon to any oil and vinegar salad dressing for tasty treat. Serve on a crudité or cheese platter. Chutney goes well with brie and crackers.

Open a Can Chili + Quesadillas

Simple to make with ingredients you might have on hand. A hearty meal to feed a crowd.

Simple to make with ingredients you might have on hand. A hearty meal to feed a crowd.

I learned how to make this chili from Ike Edgmon. He shopped at "the dented can store" for chili, beans and where every he could save a dime to feed his family of five. One time when his wife Doris was out of town, my brother and I were visiting he fed us dinner. Ike went into the kitchen fried up some hamburger, opened a couple of dented cans and when everything was heated up we ate some of the best chili I've ever tasted.

Since that day I've learned this is a default meal for many families. Ike's chili would never come out the same because, he bought whatever was on sale. I know some Grandmothers who plan ahead and purchase the same ingredients every time. Either way it's a quick meal that will feed a crowd

Crock Pot Open a Can Chili family dinner with paper plates. A nice reward after a hard days work!

Crock Pot Open a Can Chili family dinner with paper plates. A nice reward after a hard days work!

Open a Can Chili  - The Basic Recipe

Ingredients

Ground meat or Beyond Meat, a veggie base protein vegetarian option
Onion - chopped
Garlic - 1-2 cloves chopped
Canned beans - whatever kind you have on stock. I used 1 can of pinto and 1 of cannellini   Canned Tomatoes - I usually have a can of diced tomatoes on hand, but you could use whole  tomatoes and cut them up or fresh is even better. You can use tomato sauce if that's all you have.
Canned green chiles
Chile powder or fresh chiles of your choice 1 to 2 tbsp
Mexican Oregano - 1 tsp to 1 tbsp to taste
Cumin - 1 tsp to 1 tbsp to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

Ike's Secret - Add a can of chili. It give your chili all the seasoning needed so you don't need to.

Directions

Brown the meat with onions. If using Beyond Meat you only need to saute the onions until translucent. Put everything into a Crock Pot or slow cooker. Turn on high for about an hour then on low until you are ready to serve.

Toppings: Here are some suggestions for toppings. Use what you have on hand.

Sour cream
Pico de Gallo - link to my Pico de Gallo recipe
Chopped onions - green, purple or yellow
Fresh chopped jalapenos
Grated cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro
Hot sauce or Tabasco sauce

Garnish with my homemade  Pico de Gallo  and a little sour cream.

Garnish with my homemade Pico de Gallo and a little sour cream.

Serve with chips, tortillas or warm cheesy quesadillas

Quesadillas crisp up quickly on a griddle. Everyone was hungry after a day of moving furniture at Shelly's house so, I wanted to make a lot of them quickly.

Quesadillas crisp up quickly on a griddle. Everyone was hungry after a day of moving furniture at Shelly's house so, I wanted to make a lot of them quickly.

Quesadillas are super simple. Heat buttered flour tortillas filled with grated cheese until the cheese melts and the tortillas are warm and golden. I have a griddle, but you can use any frying pan. By adding lots of fresh veggies and salsas you can turn a quesadilla into a hearth meal. Tonight we kept it simple with just sharp cheddar cheese. 

My Family - Shelly, Grace, Caty, and Bellis

My Family - Shelly, Grace, Caty, and Bellis

Farmers Market Meal 7-3-18 Rainbow Chard, Carrots with Soba Noodles

Rainbow Chard, Carrots and Garlic with Soba Noodles - Farmers Market Meal 7-3-18

Green and Orange Garlicky Dinner - A simple meal that's feels more exotic when eaten with chopsticks.

Green and Orange Garlicky Dinner - A simple meal that's feels more exotic when eaten with chopsticks.

Chard, Carrots and Soba Noodles

Ingredients:

Garlic - peel and slice
Carrots - wash and slice
Chard - rainbow was fresh at the Mount Shasta Farmers Market- chop
Olive Oil for sauteing
Soba Noodles - cook as directed
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Prep vegetables. Parboiled the carrots in a medium pot of boiling salted water.  In a frying pan saute the garlic in oil until soft, then add greens. Using a slotted spoon I scoop the carrots from the boiling water into pan with the greens. Cook the Soba noodles in the same water you cooked the carrots. Drain and toss into greens. Season to taste.

Tips and Substitutes:

Soba noodles are Japanese noodles that are made from buckwheat flour. The thickness of the noodles is easily comparable to that of spaghetti. They are available in most markets...check the international section.

This is just a 'put together meal' where you can use whatever you have on hand or looks good at the Farmers Market or vegetable section of your local grocery store. This would be good with onions, mushrooms and chicken.

For an Asian flavor substitute Thai Chili and Tamari or soy sauce for salt and pepper.

Thai Tom Kha Gai Soup

tOM kHA gAI sOUP TASTES AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS!

tOM kHA gAI sOUP TASTES AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS!

 

Thai Tom Kha Gai Soup

Easy to Make Yummy Soup

This has always been one of my favorite soups to order when I eat at Thai restaurants. My granddaughter had to have braces, that means we spent a lot of time in waiting and treatment rooms. Luckily for me her orthodontist had a good supply of magazines. I found this recipe in Family Circle February 2012.

My local grocery stores are limited in international ingredients, so I made a list and went right to a large grocery store that was next to the orthodontists office. I had to make another stop at an Asian market that was in the area. I came home and made it that night. It has been a go-to delicious soup ever since.

This soup is really easy to make. It's all about having the ingredients ready to cook. My daughter is a vegetarian so I simply substitute the chicken with firm tofu and use vegetable broth.

Tom Kha Gai Recipe

Serves 6

1 quart box chicken broth - low sodium
2 4” pieces of lemon grass - crushed
2” of ginger root - peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic -  minced
8 oz. Cremini  mushrooms - sliced
2 tsp Thai chili-garlic paste adjust to taste
1 lb. broccoli florets
½ lb. chicken breast or thigh cut into ¾” pieces
1 red bell pepper - cut into matchsticks
1 - 14 oz. can coconut milk
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce

4 green onions - sliced

In a large pot heat bring chicken broth to a simmer. Add  lemongrass and ginger simmer on medium high for 5 minutes to release the aromatics.  Reduce heat, simmer, add garlic, mushrooms and chili paste. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in broccoli, chicken, red peppers and coconut milk. Simmer 5 minutes until chicken is fully cooked. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and fish sauce. Serve in bowls, garnish with scallions.  

Tips:

  • Prep all ingredients before you begin cooking. Once you begin cooking it goes quickly. 15 minutes cook time.
  • To reduce calories substitute low fat coconut milk.
  • Substitute with chicken ingredients for vegetable broth and tofu for a delicious vegetarian soup.