Jerri’s Green Bean Casserole

Three or four years before a team of home economists at the Campbell Soup Company published the recipe for green bean casserole, one of Jerri’s cousins served it on Thanksgiving in Moundridge, Kansas. Jerri is sure of the chronology for two reasons: She was not yet in high school, and she loved that casserole.

Jerri’s comment when I asked for her green bean casserole recipe probably explains how a Kansas cook beat a team of professionals. “Everybody knows how to make green bean casserole. There’s nothing special about it.”

Since Campbell Cream of Mushroom Soup had been around since 1934 and home canning of vegetables for at least fifty years before that, chances are good that inventive housewives from Kansas to Wisconsin had discovered that cream of mushroom soup turned ordinary green beans into something special shortly after they brought the first cans of the soup home from the store. I know that my mother made green bean casseroles when I was a kid, but I can’t say when they first appeared on the Rang table.

Today, you will find literally hundreds of recipes for green bean casserole on the Web. There are many variations ranging from very simple (Stir the soup and beans together and heat.) to rather complicated instructions describing how to produce an aristocratic version of a plebeian dish. (Sauté the mushrooms….toss the shallot rings….etc.)

Some call for panko crumbs and others top the casserole with Ritz crackers. Still others include extra ingredients such as garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, cheese or bacon. And some even replace the cream of mushroom soup with a white sauce and exotic mushrooms. But in spite of the substitutions or added ingredients, they are all varieties of the two kinds of green bean casserole.

One kind is made with cut beans, the other with French cut beans. Cut beans are whole beans cut crosswise into pieces. French cut beans are cut into long strips. When my mother canned beans, they were cut beans, but when she made a green bean casserole she bought French cut beans for it. So does Jerri.

I have eaten both varieties, and in my opinion green bean casseroles made with French cut beans are far superior to those made with cut beans. You may prefer the cut bean variety, which is just fine. As a wise man wrote long ago, “De gustibus non est disputandum” which is Latin for “Don’t argue about matters of taste.”

Familiarity may breed contempt in some cases, but when it comes to green bean casserole, familiarity for me nurtures a love for that mixture of finely cut beans and creamy soup with plenty of mushrooms. Like my mother, Jerri adds mushrooms to her green bean casserole My father did not approve, but he was outvoted by the rest of us, and it was Mom who ruled the kitchen.

Here is Jerri’s (and my Mom’s) recipe, simple but delicious. If you already love the one you make, don’t try this one. However, you may be one of the few people who has never made a green bean casserole. Or perhaps you make it only because family members expect one at Thanksgiving or Christmas. If either sentence describes your situation, give this recipe a try.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cans French cut green beans
2 cans Campbell Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 four oz. can mushroom stems and pieces
1 cup French fried onions, divided

PROCEDURE:

Preheat the oven to about 325º.

Drain the beans and mushrooms well and put them in a mixing bowl. Stir in the mushroom soup. Then fold in a half cup of French fried onions. Microwave until the mixture is hot. Sprinkle the remaining French fried onions on top and bake ten minutes in the oven before serving.

NOTES: Jerri microwaves the casserole because we don’t have room for it in the oven along with the turkey. If you have a larger oven or two ovens, you can just pop the casserole in the oven and remember to sprinkle the French fried onions on top during the last ten minutes while it is heating.

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Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Will I never learn? Bags of bananas on sale. I was supposed to buy two bananas. Instead I came home with four pounds of the yellow fruit.

“What am I supposed to do with all those bananas?” asked Jerri.

“I’ll bake some banana oatmeal cookies to help,” I said. “And I could make a banana milk shake.”

“You can also walk to the store and get me a box of vanilla wafers,” she told me.

After Jerri made her banana pudding dessert, I used three bananas to make some really addictive cookies. If you like soft cookies that aren’t too sweet but have a lot of flavor, you should put this recipe in your recipe box.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter
1 large egg
3 ripe medium bananas
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup plus 2 T old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup raisins

PROCEDURE:

Preheat the oven to 400º and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Using a wooden spoon and a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and shortening with the sugar. Beat the egg into the sugar and shortening. Peel and mash three bananas. Beat the bananas and vanilla into the sugar mixture until you have a smooth batter. If there are a few small chunks of banana in the batter, ignore them.

Mix the flour, salt, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, oatmeal and raisins together in a small bowl and blend the dry ingredients into the banana batter. If necessary, you can add a teaspoon or two of milk or half and half if there is not enough liquid to moisten all the dry ingredients.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls about two inches apart on the cookie sheet and bake on a center shelf for ten to twelve minutes until the cookies are lightly browned.

NOTES: Bananas vary in size and moisture content. You should have a stiff batter. You can add a little more flour and oatmeal if the batter seems too thin. This recipe makes about three dozen cookies.

Incidentally, though it certainly wasn’t a conscious decision, maybe I bought that bag of bananas to motivate Jerri to make her banana pudding. It’s just like Mom used to make, and we hadn’t had it in three or four years. I will post her recipe in a week or so.

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Assi’s Fish Soup

A few week’s ago we finally visited Assi and her family in Helsinki, Finland. Assi was a Rotary Exchange Student in 1994 when I was the District Exchange Officer for Finland. Today she and her husband, Pekka, have a two-year-old daughter named Jenna. They work for Tieto, one of the largest IT services companies in Europe, which is headquartered a few miles from their home.

Knowing that I like to eat, Assi made a point of introducing us to Finnish cuisine. She served us Karelian stew, which she had prepared the day we arrived, and introduced me to 8% beer at the Suomenlinna, the fortress built on six islands at the mouth of the South Harbor in Helsinki. After our tour of the fortress we met Assi’s parents at the Fish Market where we enjoyed a delicious salmon soup.

Like many midwesterners I had a bias against fish soup. I don’t really know why, since I like clam and seafood chowders, which are really just thickened soups. Maybe it was my father’s story about working one day at a neighboring farm where they had fish soup for dinner. “They were Swedes, and they ate stuff like that,” he told me, adding that there were fish heads in the soup pot. It would be an understatement to say that it was “not his favorite.”

Assi and her parents told us that the salmon soup at the market was delicious, and so we all had styrofoam bowls filled with a rich soup. We ate it while sitting under a canopy and watched the ferries, fishmongers and their customers along the pier. It was a wonderful lunch, and I asked Assi later if she had a recipe for salmon soup.

She emailed me her family’s recipe for fish soup, which I converted to English measurements. Here is Assi’s introduction to the recipe:

“I will share our family recipe of a fish soup. You can use any kind of fish, also leave out cream as we quite often do when eating this at home.”

When I asked what kind of fish she used, she said that they used whatever they caught including pike (walleye), northern pike and bass from any of the freshwater lakes in southern Finland plus saltwater fish that they caught from the Baltic. I used some pieces of bony bass saved from one of Jerri’s catches from this summer plus a half pound of wild salmon fillets.

INGREDIENTS:

2 or 3 medium potatoes
1 medium onion
2 1/2 cups water
4 – 8 whole allspice
4 – 8 black peppercorns
1 lb. fish (fillet or with bones)
1 scant cup of whipping cream
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T fresh dill
Butter to taste

PROCEDURE:

Following Assi’s instructions, I first brought the bony pieces of bass to a boil in about two and a half cups of water in a covered saucepan and simmered them slowly for about twenty-five minutes. If you don’t have any bony pieces of fish, use fish stock and water. We didn’t have a pound of fish with the bony pieces, so I used two small salmon fillets to bring the amount of meat to a pound.

While the bony fish is simmering, peel the potatoes and clean the onion. Chop the potato into bite-sized pieces and the onion into a quarter inch dice. Cut the fish fillets into half or three-quarter-inch pieces. Set these chopped ingredients aside.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the pieces of fish from the water and let them cool on a plate for a few minutes. Separate the meat from the bones and set it aside in a small bowl. Be careful to remove all the small bones. Strain the water through a colander lined with cloth and return it to the saucepan.

Put the chopped ingredients and the meat you removed from the bones into the liquid. Add a half teaspoon of salt, the allspice and peppercorns. Cover the pan and bring the soup to a low simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender.

Mince the dill while the soup is simmering and stir it with the cream into the soup. Heat it until it begins to steam. Taste and adjust the seasoning. I like to add a grind of black pepper at this point.

Serve in bowls with a dusting of fresh dill and a pat of butter melting on top.

NOTES: When I asked Assi to look over the recipe a few days ago, she said that they never count the allspice; they use what they think they need for the batch of soup.

Then she wrote, “Also black pepper corns can be used. Sometimes I use just black pepper from my pepper mill because it is close at hand. As you can see, we make the recipe while cooking. :-) ” I like the smiley face. Think of it as a reminder that you can adjust the seasoning before serving.

If you don’t have any bony fish to make the stock, you could use Fish Stock Cubes or canned fish stock.

And finally, here is a photo of the bass that provided the bony pieces for my first batch of fish soup. Jerri caught all of them. I was skunked, but I was handling the canoe.

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Easy Glazed Pork Steak

When I find something on sale at the supermarket, I am tempted. A couple of weeks ago, the meat manager had put some packages of pork steak into the discount bin. I brought a package home, found a recipe for boneless pork chops that looked pretty good and adapted it to turn some inexpensive meat into a delicious dinner.

You can put these pork steaks on the table complete in less than twenty minutes if you don’t dawdle. And if you start the pasta water when you walk into the kitchen, you can have the complete meal on the table in a half hour.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 lbs. pork steaks, at least 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. powdered garlic
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 T vegetable oil or shortening
1 T maple syrup (optional)

PROCEDURE:

Using a fork, mix the sugar and spices together in a small bowl. Cut the pork steaks into serving-size pieces and put them on a platter. Spread half the sugar and spice mixture over upper side of the steaks and rub it into the meat. Turn the steaks over and repeat the procedure. Let the steaks rest a few minutes while you warm the frying pan.

Coat a non-stick frying pan with about two tablespoons of oil or shortening and heat it over high heat until the oil is very hot. Put the steaks in the pan, scraping any juices and spice mixture from the platter onto the steaks. Fry them for about three minutes, then turn the steaks over and fry them another three minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the steaks another three or four minutes on each side.

If you wish, drizzle a tablespoon of maple syrup over the steaks when they are nearly done and turn them a final time to complete the glaze.

Pasta with vegetables goes very well with these steaks, but you may prefer rice or potatoes.

NOTES: If you are one of those people like me who counts carbs, you should experiment with making your own glazes for meat. This recipe, for instance, has fewer than sixty-two grams of carbohydrates. Since it makes four servings, each serving has only about sixteen grams of carbohydrates. Contrast that with one of my favorite “eating-out dinners,” General Tso chicken, which alone has sixty-four grams of carbohydrates.

If you think that dieting means to follow the advice of a doctor who supposedly said, “If it tastes good, spit it out,” these glazed pork steaks will change your mind. Just don’t eat more than one.

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Bob’s Liver and Bacon

My mother believed in providing nourishing meals to her husband and children. As you might expect, this led to some conflicts. My father, for instance, did not like cheese or mushrooms, but he ended up eating macaroni and cheese and cream of mushroom soup, and we kids faced a monthly dinner of liver and onions.

My sisters and I didn’t like the combination, but we choked down a little as we listened to a lecture about how much iron it had. Iron, we learned, helped our bodies make red blood cells, which we needed if we wanted to be able to run fast and work hard. We thought that we would do just fine with hamburgers, pot roast and fried chicken. I may have once pointed out that molasses cookies were a good source of iron too.

My mother was right, as you might expect. Liver is an excellent source of iron plus vitamins A, B and C along with other important minerals such as zinc and phosphorus. And if you are concerned about the calories and fat in the foods you eat, pork and beef liver have fewer calories and less fat than the same amount of steak or roast. One warning: liver contains so much vitamin A that it should not be eaten more than once a week.

Still, there is the problem of getting the family to eat liver. Jerri and I both remember liver and onions but not with fondness. That combination may have originated in England, where it is still popular and Americans developed a taste for it too. Liver and onions was so much in demand in the United States in the past century that fine restaurants advertised the dish and many cafes offered a liver and onion special once a week.

When Bob and I moved into our apartment in Madison, we agreed to share the kitchen chores equally. When Bob cooked, I did the dishes and he reciprocated. To begin with, we fried hamburgers, pork chops and chicken, opened cans of vegetables and boiled potatoes. After a few weeks, we began broadening our diets with other dishes. Bob introduced me to his mother’s hot dish and I reciprocated with Gus Gauch’s macaroni and cheese.

Sometime that summer Bob made me like fried liver. Instead of making liver and onions, he created his own recipe. it’s a winning combination of fried liver, bacon, creamed corn and boiled potatoes. Bob told me that his mother made liver and onions and gave him the same lecture I got about how it was good for him. Years later she confessed that she didn’t like liver and onions when she was having a second serving of Bob’s liver and bacon.

I brought the recipe with me when Jerri and I set up housekeeping in Virginia. Jerri’s salary as a teacher and my teaching fellowship provided enough money to live on if we were careful. One way to economize was to have liver and bacon twice a month. We could put a meal on the table for less than a dollar.

Economy was not the only reason we included liver and bacon on the menu. We actually looked forward to having a dinner of tender liver and home-smoked bacon from the meat market just a few blocks from our apartment. Today, unless you are very lucky, you will have to make do with frozen liver, but your dinner will turn out fine anyway and you can put a nourishing and tasty dinner on the table for under seven dollars.

Here is what you need.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb. beef or pork liver
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large or 4 medium potatoes
1 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 to 1/3 lb. bacon
1 can creamed corn
3/4 cup milk
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

PROCEDURE:

If the liver is frozen, thaw it. You can do this simply by putting the package in the refrigerator in the morning; the meat will be thawed when you are ready to cook dinner.

Put the slices of liver in a shallow bowl, cover them with milk and let them sit on the counter for fifteen or twenty minutes while you peel the potatoes. If necessary turn them once or twice to make sure that all surfaces are in the milk for at least a few minutes.

Peel the potatoes, cut them in quarters and put them in a saucepan with about three-fourths of a teaspoon of salt. Bring them to a boil and cook them for twenty to twenty-five minutes until they are tender. Test them with a fork. Larger pieces take longer to cook. Drain the potatoes and leave them in the covered saucepan to remain warm while the meat finishes cooking.

While the potatoes are cooking, put six to eight slices of bacon in a frying pan and cook them over low heat until they begin to brown on both sides. Remove them from the pan before they are crisp. Leave all the grease in the pan.

Mix a quarter teaspoon of salt and a grind or two of black pepper with the flour on a plate. Raise the heat under the frying pan to medium. Drain the liver slices, dredge them in the flour and fry them for about three minutes on each side. Check for doneness by cutting into one of the thicker pieces. It should be barely pink when you take it from the pan.

Warm the creamed corn in the microwave or in a small saucepan while the liver is frying.

Diners can smash their own potatoes and cover them with creamed corn, choose their slices of liver and bacon and dig in. Pass the salt and pepper as some folks may like to grind a little pepper on their corn (as I do) or add a bit more seasoning to the meat.

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Katie’s Carrot Salad

“In Adam’s Fall,
we sinned all.”

This is how children were introduced to the alphabet in The New England Primer, the first and most famous textbook published in the American colonies. The rhyming verses and woodcut images taught children their letters and gave them a moral lesson.

The Primer included The Shorter Catechism, the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles Creed as well as hymns and verses used to teach children to read and learn how to become good Christian adults. Though I didn’t know that it was one of the verses from The New England Primer, I can still recite this famous prayer that we recited long ago in Sunday School and before we went to bed.

“Now I lay me down to take my sleep, 
I pray the Lord my soul to keep, 
If I should die before I wake, 
I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

But despite the guidance of our parents and teachers, we all slip sometimes and even a pastor can mislead a member of his congregation. Thus it was that Jerri came came home from a church potluck praising Pastor Jim’s carrot salad. She made it several times over the next eight or ten years until she was distracted by some other recipes.

A few weeks ago, she asked me if I had put a carrot salad on Courage in the Kitchen. Since I had not, she suggested that I do Jim’s Carrot Salad. When I asked for the recipe, she confessed that she was no longer certain about all the ingredients. An email to Jim and his wife produced the recipe and the truth.

It is Katie’s, not Jim’s salad. I’m sure Jim did not intentionally lead Jerri to believe that it was his salad, but it is very tempting to claim ownership of a recipe that good cooks are swooning over. We must always remember that even pastors are human.

Here is Katie’s introduction to the salad:

“The recipe is really my mother’s but she taught me to throw in what tastes good to me. Her version didn’t include coconut but Jim loves coconut….My carrot salad is sort of a throw anything you want in.  I put in grated carrots, coconut, raisins, apple, and mayo thinned slightly with pineapple juice. It’s mostly carrots, but I do like to put a little chopped raw apple in also.  Sunflower seeds may be Jerri’s version and that sounds good, too.  I do like salads and usually guess at what I would like to eat most in the salad.”

Here is some guidance to help you create a delicious carrot salad. I call it Katie’s, but she credits her mother with teaching her to make it, Jim inspired her to add the coconut and Jerri apparently contributed the sunflower seeds. This is a very forgiving recipe (pun intended) that you can customize to fit your tastes.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups grated carrots
1/4 cup chopped apple
1/4 cup grated or flaked coconut
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
2 – 3 T pineapple juice

PROCEDURE:

Wash and scrape or peel four or five large carrots. Grate them into a large mixing bowl. You want about three cups of grated carrots. Add a quarter cup of crisp apple chopped into a quarter-inch dice along with the coconut, raisins and sunflower seeds. Mix everything together.

Blend two or three tablespoons of pineapple juice with a quarter cup of mayonnaise or salad dressing and stir the dressing into the other ingredients. If the salad is too dry, add more mayonnaise and pineapple juice. If it tastes bland, try adding a teaspoon of lemon juice. If it is not sweet enough, use a little more pineapple juice or add a tiny bit of sugar or honey.

NOTES: Obviously, you should feel free to omit or add an ingredient or to increase the amount of one you like. My advice always is to be cautious when changing a recipe. You may really like sunflower seeds, for instance, but a cupful might have an effect you didn’t intend.

Posted in Salads and Stuff, Side dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Nancy’s Caramel Pecan Squares

Jerri and I both like to read and we value libraries, but she is more generous of her time than I am. That’s why she has been active on the Board of Directors of Friends of the Friday Memorial Library for the past twenty years or so. I just show up for the annual meeting to listen to the speaker and enjoy the snacks.

One time many years ago Nancy, who was an officer of the group, brought two plates piled high with some tasty dessert bars loaded with pecans and caramel. Those bars were a big hit, and we asked for the recipe. She emailed it to us, and here it is.

INGREDIENTS:

1 yellow Pillsbury Plus cake mix or equivalent
1/4 cup butter
4 cups pecan halves
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup whipping cream

PROCEDURE:

Preheat the oven to 350º.  

Put the cake mix into a large bowl.  Use a pastry blender to cut in a quarter cup of butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Line a ten by fifteen-inch jelly roll pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.  Make a bottom crust by pressing the cake mix evenly into the bottom of the pan and top it with the pecan halves.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugars, butter and honey.  Bring the mixture to a full boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for three minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the whipping cream until it is well blended.  

Pour the mixture evenly over the pecans.  Bake for seventeen to twenty-two minutes or until the entire surface is bubbly.

Cool completely and cut into bars.

NAN’S NOTES: “Be sure to line the pan with wide heavy duty foil so that you have at least a two inch overhang.  This prevents spillovers, and makes cutting and removal of the bars easier. I have used half and half instead of whipping cream.  Seems to work just fine.”

MY NOTE: These bars are very rich. One and a half-inch squares are big enough. You can always take two.

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Cheesy Sour Cream Potatoes

Church potlucks, family reunions, picnics and buffet dinners are all occasions when you are likely to encounter hash brown potatoes as the main ingredient in a casserole. This version is one from The Krehbiel Family Cookbook. Jerri’s nieces compiled this cookbook to preserve recipes that their mother used when they were growing up.

Phyllis was busy raising four girls, helping out with the lambs on the farm, tending the garden and directing the music at their church, so a lot of her recipes are ones that don’t take much time in the kitchen.

This particular one is very easy to make if you remember to take the hash browns out of the freezer an hour or two before assembling the dish. You stir everything together, put it in a covered baking pan and slip it into a hot oven for an hour.

The result is a rich combination of cheese and potatoes that goes particularly well with a ring of smoked sausage steamed for a few minutes after you take the casserole out of the oven. And it’s even filling enough to serve as the main dish with a salad and bread for a light supper.

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs. frozen hash brown potatoes
2 cups sour cream
1/2 stick butter or oleo
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup onion
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

PROCEDURE:

Preheat the oven to 350º and grease a nine by thirteen-inch baking pan.

Thaw the potatoes, melt the butter or oleo and grate the cheese. Chop the onion very fine to about a sixteenth-inch dice.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Spread the mixture evenly into the baking pan. Cover and bake for an hour.

NOTE: Jerri’s nieces noted that you can freeze this casserole either before or after baking. If you are baking an uncooked frozen casserole, bake it for about an hour and a half. If reheating a cooked casserole, bake for forty-five to sixty minutes.

This recipe serves as a main dish for six to eight diners or a buffet offering for a dozen or more. You can cut the ingredients in half and bake it in an eight by twelve inch pan if you wish.

One of our friends used to make a very similar casserole that she brought to a church choir potluck one year. Hers had a topping of crunchies. If you want, you could add them to this recipe after it has baked covered a half hour. Sprinkle a cup or two of crushed corn flakes on top, dribble a couple of tablespoons of melted butter over them and bake the casserole uncovered another thirty minutes.

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Gluten-free Chilean Quinoa Tabbouleh

One of our great-nieces and her husband have twin sons with wheat or gluten intolerance. Although most of us don’t think about this particular allergy, people who are allergic to wheat or other grains with gluten such as rye and barley need to avoid recipes or prepared foods that contain it. Ordinary soy sauce is made from wheat, and many commercial products such as pasta sauce, ketchup and mustard often are thickened with wheat starch.

However, many gluten-free foods are now available on store shelves and lists of gluten-free alternatives to common diet ingredients are now easy to find on the Web. For example, most supermarkets today sell both bulgar and buckwheat groats. Bulgar is made from wheat and contains gluten. Buckwheat groats are cracked buckwheat seeds which have no gluten.

We like pilaf pilaf which is made from cracked wheat or bulgar, but we also like kasha, kasha which is made with buckwheat groats. If you are careful to make your kasha with gluten-free chicken broth, you will have a wonderful side dish with no gluten that tastes different but is just as delicious as pilaf.

Another example is tabbouleh, an Eastern Mediterranean vegetable salad commonly made with bulgar or couscous, both of which contain gluten. Made with quinoa, it is a delicious gluten-free side dish. Quinoa originated in the Andes and has been cultivated for at least three thousand years by the Andean people. The Incas thought of it as sacred and called it the “mother of all grains.”

Though it has no gluten, it does have a lot of protein, dietary fiber and minerals that make it a healthful ingredient in your next batch of tabbouleh.

Kristi makes this salad often. Her introduction to the recipe says it all: “This makes quite a large dish, but it is SO good! This is one of our favorite summer dishes.” 

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 T fresh lemon juice, divided
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup finely chopped red onion
4 plum tomatoes
1 cup diced cucumbers
1 ripe avocado 

PROCEDURE:

Shuck two medium ears of sweet corn and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cobs. You should have about a cup of corn kernels. Put them in a container and microwave them on high for about 2 1/2 minutes. Check that they are lightly cooked, and set them aside to cool.

Put the quinoa and water into a medium-sized saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent. This will take ten to thirteen minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork as you transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Let it cool to room temperature.

While the quinoa is cooling, wash and peel the cucumbers, leaving small strips of green for color. Slice the cucumber lengthwise into quarters, trim off the seeds and chop it into a half inch dice. Wash and chop the tomatoes, also into a half inch dice. You should have about a cup of each vegetable.

Remove the husks from the onion and garlic. Chop the onion into a quarter inch dice and mince the garlic.

Wash and coarsely chop the cilantro into three-eighths to half-inch pieces.

Wash and juice two or three lemons.

Sprinkle the quinoa with the salt and pepper and stir. Use a fork to fold the ingredients together from underneath the grains of quinoa. Fold four tablespoons of the lemon juice and the oil into the quinoa, then fold in the cilantro and garlic.

Toss the avocado with the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
Fold the corn, onion, tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado into the quinoa. Let the salad rest for three or four minutes, then taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve at a cool room temperature within two hours of preparation.

NOTES: Kristi says that the recipe makes enough to serve eight to ten people. If you offer it as a side dish, we think that it will serve twelve or more.

If your tabbouleh seems too dry, add a little more olive oil and lemon juice.

Tabbouleh is pronounced “tah-BOO-luh.”

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Easy Oatmeal Pancakes

As I have written elsewhere, we had a lot of pancakes for breakfast when I was growing. up. Most were Mom’s ordinary thin pancakes, but she made other kinds from time to time.

Though I don’t remember them, chances are good that she made oatmeal pancakes once in a while, since she loved trying new recipes and always had a big box of old-fashioned oatmeal in the kitchen. She made oatmeal bread, oatmeal cookies and even oatmeal cakes along with oatmeal toppings for apple and berry crisps.

We had hot oatmeal for breakfast at least a couple times a month. When it was really cold outside (thirty degrees or more below zero) even my dog, Nugget, and Mama Kitty would have oatmeal for breakfast. Mom would make an extra large batch of oatmeal and spoon the steaming leftovers into the two bowls on the back stoop. Dog and cat would dine peacefully side by side on mornings like that.

Considering the nutritional benefits of oatmeal, you might want to add these pancakes to your list of breakfast dishes. They are a bit chewy but delicious. If you serve them with butter and plenty of maple syrup, even the most finicky person at your breakfast table will almost certainly find them more than merely edible.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk
2 T vegetable oil

PROCEDURE:

Preheat a griddle over medium-low heat to about 350º while you make the batter. If the griddle is not non-stick, grease before heating, or use a non-stick vegetable oil spray.

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Beat the eggs in a small bowl until they are lemon colored. Beat one and one-half cups of buttermilk and two tablespoons of oil into the eggs, and gently stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients.

Mix the batter only enough to make sure that all the dry ingredients have been moistened. If the batter seems too thick, add more buttermilk.

Cook the first side for two to four minutes, until brown, then flip each pancake and cook the other side until brown.

Serve with butter and maple syrup.

NOTES: This recipe makes about twenty four-inch cakes.

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