Make Mine a Sandwich!

I have always enjoyed ground meat spreads for sandwiches.  My favorite, as a kid … and still now, is what we lovingly call ‘bologna salad’ that we would make from a thick stick of bologna.  I learned  early in my home cooking, though, that you can make a flavorful spread out of any leftover meat.  Before our kids were grown and had kids of their own and outgrew the size of my little house, my siblings and I always gathered on Christmas Eve.  Mother always brought her popular chicken salad and we would make a big platter of sandwiches on white and whole wheat breads.  Added to all the other snacks we piled on the table; these sandwiches were often the first to disappear!  One year she surprised us all by making her chicken salad out of rabbits.  Daddy had had several successful rabbit hunts and she needed to use some of the game.  Nobody knew the difference, until she told her secret.  We were all game eaters, so it didn’t really matter.  It was just unusual. 

The sandwich spread recipe I’m sharing in this post is made from a single leftover boneless pork chop!  It makes enough for two sandwiches for a nice lunch a day or two after the original meal.  The pork chops were seasoned with Italian herbs, dredged in breadcrumbs and gently fried.

Here’s what I did two days later!  The breadcrumb coating wasn’t really thick, but I scraped most of it off the chop.  The chop weighed about 6 ounces, so I added about half as much cheddar cheese.  I used my food processor to chop the meat and the cheese.  I added about a teaspoon of mustard and ¼ cup of mayonnaise.  Because the pork chop had been seasoned with Italian flavors, I wanted to enhance those flavors, so I added 3 Tablespoons of muffuletta giardiniera … an Italian flavored blend of olives and other pickled vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper, blend it all together and use it for a spread on crackers or to make a couple sandwiches,

This is an article that will eventually land on my "Lovin' Leftovers" page and if you'd like to see similar articles, just follow that page on my blog. 


Mushrooms Make Everything Better!

The use of mushrooms in the 1950s middle-class home kitchens makes my mouth water!  The list of recipes is a long one and includes Beef Stroganoff, Salisbury Steak, Tuna Noodle Casserole, Chicken ala King  Chopped steak recipes of that time call for adding lots of ingredients like onions and garlic … to good beef that has been hand-chopped (not just ground beef as we know it today).  Those hearty steaks were topped with sliced mushrooms and onions braised in butter.  In many places, this is still a popular entrée!  The breakfast tables of the 1950s were frequently laid with creamed eggs and mushrooms, and if you were upper middle-class, you might have had a chaffing dish to hold that delightful covering for toast corners or puff pastry shells.

French restaurant menus from the earliest part of the century included many recipes for preparing mushrooms.  The mushroom itself was the focus.  They were not used as additions to recipes.  One of great interest to me is all about cooking mushrooms under a glass bell.   Imagine the elegance of this:  Rounds of toast were covered with a mound of a few stemmed mushrooms.  The mushrooms were basted with melted butter, sprinkled with salt and pepper.  A couple Tablespoons of sweet cream were added to each toast/mound.  All was covered with the bell, baked for about twenty minutes, then sent to the table.  The glass bell was a part of the presentation, but when it was lifted at the table … the aroma was wonderful!  That is my kind of food.

Other indulgent French recipes from the early 1900s include chopped mushrooms cooked with bone marrow and spread on toast tips … big mushrooms filled with an oyster and covered with bechamel sauce … and mushroom caps stuffed with all kinds of delightful ingredients.

Mushrooms were found at the beginning of time.  Historians know that prehistoric people ate fungus and mushrooms.  Mushrooms were foraged and easily became a part of their meals.  Ancient Romans enjoyed the taste of mushrooms and actually grew them.  In the 16th century, mushrooms were cultivated in France.   Text in explains that many varieties of mushrooms were eaten by common people in Switzerland, Germany and Austria … but in Greece and Rome, mushrooms were expensive and only available to the elite.  Chinese and Japanese people grew shitake mushrooms. 

Here in my Southern Illinois home, now is the season to forage for morel mushrooms. Folks hit the woodlands and look in some well-hidden places for these delicious fungi!  Newspapers host competitions to see who can get the most or the biggest.   It delights me to know that although mushroom cultivation reached America by the 1890s … that was also the time that mushrooms became a fad.   Mushroom clubs emerged along with illustrated literature educating amateur foragers … and mushroom hunting was fun!

I am such a fan of mushrooms.  I love them raw in a spinach salad.  I love them breaded and fried for an appetizer.  I especially love them ‘scalded’ in butter and used as a topping for pasta or grilled steaks. No pizza is complete without mushrooms.  Mushrooms make most foods better!

The first recipe I’m sharing today is a simple lunch or supper favorite in my family.  Mushrooms in a creamy sauce, topping toast.  It is just as delicious topping biscuits or waffles!

Creamed Baby Bellas on Toast

Clean and slice 8 ounces of Baby Portabella mushrooms.  Sauté them in 2 Tablespoons of butter and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. The addition of olive oil will keep the butter from burning.  I’ve used the word ‘sauté’, but I like to scald the mushrooms first, so they caramelize.  

Begin with high heat, toss in the mushrooms and stir them a bit.  Then … turn down the temperature and let them finish by sautéing.  When the mushrooms are soft, remove them from the skillet.   To make the cream sauce, add 2 more Tablespoons of butter to the skillet and stir in 2 Tablespoons of flour to make a light roux.  Let the flour cook for a minute, then add 2 ups of Half and Half.  Cook the sauce until it is thick.  Season it with salt, pepper and a grind of nutmeg.  Add the mushrooms back in and serve over toast, biscuits or waffles.  Delicious!   

Double this recipe if you are feeding more than 2 people.  Of course, any mushroom can be used in this recipe. 

Chicken Chardonnay with Mushrooms

6 chicken tenders
1 egg plus little water for egg wash
1 cup of flour
Salt and pepper to season
½ teaspoon onion powder
Olive oil for frying

Make an egg wash with the egg and a little water.  Use a table fork and whip the combination a little.  Season the flour with salt, pepper and onion powder.  Dip the chicken pieces into the egg wash and then into the flour.  Fry in olive or canola oil until they are nicely browned and done (internal temp of 165 degrees)

When you remove the chicken from the skillet, add 4 – 8 ounces of cleaned and sliced mushrooms.  I used a mixture of several kinds the last time I made this.  Let the mushrooms cook gently in the remaining oil in the skillet.  Add a splash of your favorite chardonnay to the skillet … just so the mushrooms absorb a little of the flavor.  Remove the mushrooms and prepare to make the creamy sauce.

Add 3 Tablespoons of butter to the skillet and let it melt.  Add 1 cup of parmesan cheese (the kind out of the green box) and stir it until it begins to sizzle.  Pour in 2 cups of Half and Half and 1 cup of chardonnay.  Whisk the ingredients to make it smooth and let the sauce cook until it begins to thicken.  Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.   It should thicken without any addition of flour … but if it doesn’t you can add a little bit of a slurry made with corn starch mixed with cold Half and Half.  The corn starch slurry will not make lumps!

When the sauce is thick, pour it over the chicken and top everything with those delicious mushrooms.  Sometimes I add a handful of frozen peas to this sauce.  You can also add a cup of chopped fresh spinach or kale.  I also spritz the chicken with a little lemon juice before I sauce it.  That adds a layer of flavor to this very ‘rich’ dish!

How to Make Air Fried Mushrooms!

I love fried mushrooms, but I do my best to stay away from too much real fried food.  These are air fried and couldn't be easier!

Slice fresh mushrooms and dip them in egg wash. Dredge lightly in flour. Place in the basket of the air fryer and spritz with a tiny bit of olive oil.  Fry them at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

They are delicious! They are tender inside but crispy on the outside with nearly no amount of oil used.

This article is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable project.  If you’d like to see similar articles, just click the Vintage Vegetables menu tab.  I’ll also be sharing with a couple blog parties, so check my sidebar and visit.

Stay safe … and stay well.

Don't Give Up!

 "Consider Him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart."  

Hebrews 12:3

This was the Bible verse that popped up in my daily devotional a couple days ago.  It immediately made me think about the news I had watched the day before. People in several cities demonstrating because they were ‘growing weary’ of being confined to their homes.  I think we are all tired of being cooped up because of COVID-19, but I remain calm in the decisions that are being made about the necessity to stay at home, the need to social distance when we do have to go someplace … and the recommendation of wearing masks for everybody’s protection. 

Admittedly, there is a difference in my situation as a retired individual and people who cannot do their jobs from home … and who cannot go to their work locations. News stories are telling us now that a few states are planning the ways they will reopen in upcoming weeks.  Illinois’ Governor Pritzker has extended his stay at home orders through the end of May.  I’m not unhappy about that, but I recognize the need families have to go back to work.  Food pantries are running out of food and although the agriculture/food industry is planning to start directly filling the food banks, it isn’t happening fast enough.  Those who can afford groceries have to be able to find them.  Ordering in advance and picking up groceries is a wonderful service that I started using a year ago, but the products have to be available.  We’ve also raised a couple generations who haven’t been taught how to cook, and that certainly adds another complication.  Those who can cook have hoarded all the flour, eggs, butter, milk, yeast … and many other products.  Toilet tissue isn’t the only thing missing from the supermarket shelves!

Anybody who is confined to their home right now … even if they are working and have an income … is stressed.  How do you get through that?

My devotional Bible verse linked to a few other verses.

Proverbs 24:10 If you falter in the day of distress, how small is your strength!
Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.
Galatians 6:9 Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up

The verse that struck me most is the last one … and the last phrase … if we do not give up. We don’t have much choice but to endure, but there is an uptick in reports of mental/emotional issues. Apparently, the hot lines are very busy.

I don’t have answers for everybody, but I do know that what we are experiencing is just like experiencing any loss. If you think about your life journey, you have been through things that have required you to exert your highest level of resilience. The things you did in the times of loss are the same things you need to do now. 

Stay healthy, physically and emotionally. If daily exercise is the answer … eating better … reading your Bible or just looking through scrapbooks or drawers of old pictures … do it. I find myself asking what my mother would have done. In every single time of loss that I remember … Mama cooked! Always. If a family member or friend died, she cooked. My daddy the carpenter ran a nail through his hand one fall, had blood poisoning and had to stay in bed for a few weeks with antibiotics. Back in those days, there was no ‘sick pay’ for a carpenter, so he had no income for a few months. Mother had money tucked away … she always did, but we experienced a bad time … a loss. Mama’s reaction was to cook. While Mama was prepared with all her home-canned garden produce, there were plenty of meatless meals during that time, but she still made sure we had meals.

I would encourage my readers to turn to old hobbies. Men – hit the garage workshop and piddle with a project. Ladies – get out the crochet hooks and dig around for some yarn! There are countless patterns online for quick projects. Get as much fresh air as you can manage. If you don’t have a porch or a backyard … open a window for awhile and breath. Sunshine is a cure for emotional stress, so if you cannot get outside to absorb some rays … open the curtains and blinds.

Some of us have had other misfortunes occur during recent weeks. I have a friend who had a serious surgery right before the stay at home orders came out. I have two friends who have lost their husbands and can’t have funerals. I had to send my dog to the Rainbow Bridge, and I keep looking for him to come down the hallway. I list these accounts as a reminder that there is always somebody in worse shape than we are in.

Don’t give up. Progress is being made even though the loss has been just unbelievable. Something good will come out of all this. It may be years before we realize it, but one of the things at the top of my list is the desire that America will be reminded of how important it is to manufacture our needs in the United States. I’m hoping this encourages people to buy local. Families are learning how different it is to sit down at the dinner table together. Parents are spending more time with their children. If we continue these practices when we get back to normal, these will have been good things.

I’m pretty certain that we will learn to live a new kind of normal, but right now, we cannot give up.

Easy Banana Cake

It is fitting that my first post for my Lovin’ Leftovers page is all about banana cake!  It seems like everybody always has bananas that don’t get eaten before they start turning black!  This is the easiest recipe ever because you start with a yellow cake mix.  In fact, I keep yellow cake mixes in the pantry for all kinds of cakes.

Easy Banana Cake

1 yellow cake mix
All the ingredients required to make the cake
1 teaspoon of baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
3 mashed ripe bananas
¼ cup of your favorite nuts
1 teaspoon almond extract

Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the package.  Add all the other ingredients and blend well.  Bake the cakes in two round 9 inch pans (prepared with spray) at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Let the cakes cool a bit, turn them out of the pans to cool completely before frosting.

We love hazelnut chocolate spread!  This frosting is delicious.  Whip together 1 cup of soft butter, ¾ cup of hazelnut spread, a teaspoon of almond extract.  Slowly add 4 cups of powdered sugar and 1/3 cup of milk … continue whipping until you have the spreading consistency you want.   This is a lot of frosting and will generously frost a cake.  I usually  cut it in half, when I just want to frost between two layers and on the top.

A few tips you might like ...

You can freeze bananas ... just stick them right in the freezer, whole with their peel.  Their peels will turn black, but the banana will be just like it was when you put it in the freezer.  Let them thaw on the counter.

You can bake this cake, then freeze the layers for another time.  Let them thaw on the counter and frost it when you are ready for it.

Banana cake actually gets better after it sits for a day!  The longer it sits, the better it is!

Lots of folks prefer cream cheese frosting on banana cake, and it is delicious.  Think about all the combinations you like with bananas, though.  Strawberry frosting?  Butter cream frosting?  Caramel frosting?  All those would be scrumptious.

This is the first post for my leftovers page.  In the future, each post will be added to that page, so my followers can peruse the various recipes!  Enjoy!

Cabbage or Conehead?

A bit about the history of cabbage …, one of my favorite sites, details the history of cabbage as it relates to Celts. Historians believe that cabbage originated in the eastern Mediterranean, but Celts knew of it in ancient times and even influenced the Latin name, Brassica. The Celtic word bresic, means “cabbage”. The French word caboche means “head”.

The Celts probably delivered cabbage to Europe, taking it back from their invasions into Mediterranean lands as early as 600 B.C. The Celts reached the British Isles long before the Romans did, so we’ll credit them with having introduced cabbage into Britain.

The hard heads of cabbage that we know today were common in France in the 13th century and in England in the 14th century. In the mid-1500s, Italy had Savoy cabbage. In 1541, the French explorer Jacques Cartier planted cabbage in Canada, and the first written record of cabbage in the United States dates to 1669. 

Cabbages were round until late in the 17th century, when egg shaped varieties appeared and finally in the 18th century the conical, pointed cabbages emerged.

When I think of the cabbage of my childhood, I think of two things. Mother only used it to make coleslaw … which I disliked. Grandmother frequently had it stewing in the Dutch oven that was actually a part of her old stove! It was kind of like a built in crock pot. I disliked it, too.

My attitude about cabbage has changed, but the only way I like coleslaw is on a hot dog! I love cabbage steamed, grilled, sautéed and braised … but I want it to be crisp tender.

Cabbage is common worldwide, but ethnic cultures prepare it differently … and I think that is interesting. I have a French cookbook with recipes for stuffing cabbage with duck or white sausage meat. The sauces vary from a tomato sauce with cream added … to a simple cream sauce. German cookbooks include numerous recipes for sweet and sour style red or green cabbage (and of course there’s kraut). The Scottish and the Irish enjoy mixing their cooked cabbage with mashed potatoes. In the Middle East, cabbage rolls are stuffed with rice, raisins and a wonderful combination of spices and herbs … all topped with a yogurt sauce. Italians braise it with pancetta … Germans braise it with bacon! I have a West African recipe for cabbage stew that includes tomatoes, a habanero pepper, ginger and lots of garlic.

An old hard-headed cabbage … prepared so many different ways! Let’s look at this wonderful cone shaped cabbage, first! Caraflex is the real name, and if you’ve never cooked one you need to try to find one to prepare! They are sweeter than the typical cabbage … and so unique.

I prepared this one in the Instant Pot. I cooked it for just 4 minutes on the vegetable setting. I did a quick release of the pressure, because I didn’t want it to get mushy! The leaves on this cabbage are not as compact as a round cabbage.

My favorite cheese sauce for most vegetables is made with Velveeta. You can find lots of recipes online, but it is very simple. I warm ¼ cup of milk, a pat of butter and about 6 ounces of Velveeta … gently in a saucepan. Whisk it to make it smooth. You can add a little salt, pepper and paprika … but I usually forget to do that.

This next recipe is from the Iberia … the peninsula that is shared by Spain and Portugal. The southern part of Spain is an agricultural area, so there is no mystery that cabbage is a part of the cuisine. I have adjusted a recipe for a cabbage stew, so the cabbage is just crisp tender. This recipe is fast and delicious. It makes a great side dish for grilled meats.

Andalusian Braised Cabbage 


½ head of cabbage
½ sweet onion
A few cherry tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ red bell pepper
1 teaspoon dried chili pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 cups of tomato juice
Olive oil for braising

Slice the cabbage into bite-size pieces. Chop the onion and bell pepper. In a couple Tablespoons of olive oil, saute the vegetables until they begin to get tender. Sprinkle the sugar over the vegetables and continue cooking to caramelize. Keep stirring and add all the spices and the tomato juice. Add the tomatoes at this point, so they get hot and burst. Cook the cabbage mixture until most of the juice evaporates, leaving a spicy tomato coating on the vegetables.

This next recipe is for a simple cream sauce to use on steamed cabbage. Cut your cabbage into wedges and steam in (or boil it) until it is tender. Serve it with a white cream sauce that is so easy to make! Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of flour to make a roux. As soon as the flour is absorbed, whisk in 2 cups of whole milk or half and half. Season with salt, lots of black pepper and a few grinds of nutmeg.

When I need coleslaw for my hot dogs, this is the recipe I use! I make it just like my mother made it.

Blend together 1 cup of mayonnaise, 1 Tablespoon of prepared mustard, 1 Tablespoon of sugar, 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and ½ cup of milk. I shred my cabbage, a couple carrots and half a small onion. You can add shredded green peppers or celery, if you like that. I always sprinkle my shredded vegetables with salt, pepper and celery seeds before I add the dressing. This should be enough dressing for a medium head of cabbage. If you feel like you need a little more dressing, pour in a little more milk. Coleslaw is always better if it is refrigerated overnight!

I’m posting this as a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetables project. If you’d like to see similar columns, just click my menu tab. I’m also sharing this with a couple blog parties, so click through the parties listed on my sidebar.

Use your Wait Time Wisely!

Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

“Coronatimes”, as I’m calling this horrible time in our lives, has sure prompted some changes in the way we are living our lives. Yesterday, on television, I watched protesters in Michigan loudly expressing their desires to be released from the ‘stay at home’ orders of their Governor. I just heard our Surgeon General say that this virus has humbled him. I’d say it has humbled lots of us and changed our mindset about where the products we need desperately actually come from. Yesterday I watched the press conference praising our truckers and thanking them for moving the products we do have.

I have never been an individual with patience. I cannot knit a sweater because it takes too long. I have trouble reading long novels because I want the author to ‘get on with it’ so I can get to the ending. I have always worked hard to achieve what I desired, and I think God expects us to do just that. He doesn't take care of lazy people.

The notion of being quiet and waiting on God to do something is a concept I’ve always had problems with … but as I’ve grown older and wiser … I’ve come to accept it! God works in His own time and if we pay too much attention to others … their accomplishments or their dirty deeds … and think we should be moving more quickly than we are … God might just take a little longer with us!

Right now, patience is a must. We have to wait until the right time to return to something similar to our old way of life. There are things that I will never do again. Watching how easily and quickly COVID-19 spread has reminded me to keep my distance … to wipe down the grocery store shopping cart handle … to stop shaking hands and hugging people.

Seeing the general public hoard toilet tissue confused me in the beginning, but this many weeks into Coronatimes, there is still no toilet paper! I can understand food products being hoarded, but I wouldn’t have thought about toilet tissue! This has reminded me of my late husband’s rule: Always have enough food in the freezer and in the pantry to last for a year. I guess when toilet paper and paper towels are available again, I’ll hoard them, too!

For now, I’m going to be still and try to be patient. I enjoy spending quiet time at home and don’t care much about public functions anymore. I retired at the beginning of this mess, so I’m content, but I sure am concerned about people who need to return to their jobs … and I worry about the overall economic challenges that are ahead of us. The virus may go away, or we might certainly get it under control, but it will take a very long time for the economy to bounce back and that will impact all of us. I worry about the folks who are being so drastically impacted emotionally by these times. We should pray for our communities and hope that these needs are being addressed.

We don’t have much choice but to wait. I’m hoping my readers and followers are using that extra time to reevaluate their ways of life and their spirituality. Our families are the most important gifts we have. Time spent with children and grandchildren should always be cherished. It might be time to renew some old trusted friendships. I had a conversation like this just last weekend. A lifetime friend had been reminded of the fact that we had lost contact in recent years. Make a phone call, write notes, send cards, send emails, engage on Facebook. Use this quiet time to reconnect.

All we can do is be still and wait. Let’s make the wait time remarkably valuable.

Buffalo Checked Easter 2020!

I am fortunate that I had purchased the few things I needed for my Easter tablescape three months ago!  COVID-19 has kept me away from my favorite shopping spots, but I was ready for Easter before I confined myself.

I have come to love black and white buffalo checks.  I used them for part of my Christmas decor ... for Valentine's Day and now for Easter!  I have also purchased a few pieces of Pioneer Woman's Jadite dinnerware.  I love it because I have collectible Jadite ... lots of it and I'm anxious to use some of the pieces together.  It also looks fantastic with my Milk Glass goblets.  Because I had seen several tablescapes using the combination ... I was sure this would be a perfect Easter dinnerscape!

Here's a full view of my table.  Everything we do at our house is country ... cabin ... casually styled!  I'll set an exquisite formal table with good china, crystal and silverware ... but not often!  I bought the table runner, which I've doubled over to use on just one end of the table ... last year.  Not sure where it came from!

The welcome sign in my composed end piece (not in the center of the table!) came from Hobby Lobby this year.  The two checked bunnies also came from HL ... along with checked eggs.  The little black bunny candy dishes were junk store finds.

These adorable bunny plates were also from HL this season.  I enjoyed using the dots and the checks!  Our little family came together for Easter dinner, although we are hunkering down otherwise.  My son-in-law is an "essential" employee, so he continues to go to work. 

We did have a bit of a catastrophe right before meal time.  I was preparing delicious chicken breasts in a cream sherry sauce ... in a crock pot.  I was getting ready to lift the lid to add the sherry and the glass lid crumbled.  It made a quiet little popping nose ... and shattered.  Needless to say ... a quick trip to KFC ... was called for!

These adorable little rabbits were waiting on the table for us ... so we just continued to have our meal!

I made treat bags instead of baskets!  I just love the checks!

I make a printed menu card for every holiday meal or special meal at my table!  It is tradition ... but this menu will go down in history as having been adjusted to include Kentucky Fried Chicken!

I'll share this post with a couple blog parties, so make sure you check out my list in my sidebar.  You might find other posts that interest you!

I'm hoping you are all doing well ... staying home ... staying safe ... and helping save lives.

Goodbye Mushy Brussels Sprouts!

Goodbye mushy Brussels sprouts!  The Brussels sprouts of my favorite vintage period were always prepared the same way.  They were boiled until they were very soft, sometimes doused with melted butter, but more often smothered with cheese or white sauce.  My husband loved them that way, so that is the way I prepared them for decades!

The earliest recipes for the preparation of these cute tiny green cabbages date to the mid-1700s.  Boiled … that was the way to prepare them!  Thank goodness somebody came up with the idea of roasting Brussels sprouts!  It is difficult to determine just which television chef first showcased sheet pan meals or roasting vegetables in about the year 2000!   The truth is, I am way over roasted vegetables, but this is one that is best roasted!  Brussels sprouts can also be eaten raw, if they are sliced thin and are young and tender to start with. 

Although cabbage is native to the Mediterranean area and was probably cultivated 2,500 years ago, food historians believe that their little cousins, Brussels sprouts weren’t propagated until the 17th century in northern Europe.  Obviously, they are named after the City of Brussels.

According to the 1999 Oxford Companion to Food, there are references to Brussels sprouts in 13th century Brussels and in 15th century wedding feast menus from Burgundy.  In 1512, Portuguese explorers brought spices to Europe and the Dutch quickly adopted nutmeg as a perfect spice for Brussels sprouts.  In 1845, Eliza Acton published a cookbook and a recipe for Brussels sprouts.  She suggested boiling them, then melting butter and serving the sprouts on toasted bread which had been buttered on both sides … and pouring that melted butter over all of it.  Still, the vegetables were boiled and almost camouflaged with butter!

I really enjoy eating salads made with Brussels sprouts as a primary ingredient, but these combinations can always be added to your favorite mixture of salad greens.  Try this recipe!

Orange & Date Brussels Sprouts Salad

12 – 16 ounces of Brussels sprouts
3 oranges
¼ cup canola or almond oil
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
A couple dashes of salt
A couple grinds of black pepper
8 pitted dates, quartered (or more if you’d like
A handful of whole pecans

Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts.  Zest and juice one of the oranges and peel and divide the other 2 oranges into sections.  Mix the juice and zest with the oil, sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  You can put all the salad dressing ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting lid and simply shake it to mix it.

Combine the sprouts, oranges, dates and pecans and toss the salad with the dressing.  This salad is great when you first make it, but it is just as good if you make it and store it in the fridge over night.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Brown a couple strips of chopped bacon (or pancetta) in a big skillet.  Add Brussels sprouts (cut in half) to the skillet with a few raisins.  The raisins will add the little bit of sweetness that make the sprouts better.  Keep the skillet hot until the sprouts begin to brown, then turn down the temperature and continue to stir the mixture until the Brussels sprouts are crisp tender.  If you are worried that your bacon will burn, remove it before you add the sprouts to the bacon grease. You can add a little water to the skillet to speed up the cooking.  Put a lid on the skillet and the sprouts will steam a little.  Salt and pepper is all you need … and you have a fantastic side dish.

This post is part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable project.  If you want to see similar columns, just click the menu tab.  I'm also sharing it with a couple blog parties, so make sure you check out my list and visit those sites.

Stay in.  Stay safe.  Save lives.

Coffee Flavored Beer Bread!

While reorganizing the pantry, I found six bottles of Schlafly beer.  I don't drink much beer, but when I do I want stout and I had bought a case of flavored stouts.  My daughter has been doing weekly broadcasts from her FB page for friends and students and she and her husband discussed having made beer bread, so I decided to make a loaf of beer bread, too!

I wanted bread that was good for breakfast and knew I wanted to put raisins in it.  When I saw a bottle of Blueberry Coffee flavored stout,  I chose that one!  I adjusted my standard recipe a little bit, just to add morning food sweetness.

Blueberry Coffee Beer Bread

3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of white sugar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup of raisins
1 bottle of Blueberry Coffee Stout Beer (Schlaflys)
1 teaspoon coffee extract

Mix all the ingredients together and let the batter stand for about 15 minutes before putting it in the loaf pan. Beer bread batter is 'excited' by the fizz of the beer and letting it stand allows the excitement to settle down!  Having said that, you can use stale beer.  It won't change a thing.

Spray the loaf pan; add the batter and bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes, depending upon the depth of the pan. The bread should be crusty on top and a pick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Remove the bread from the oven and brush the top with butter.  The top and bottom crust of beer bread will be crispy without the butter.  If you are concerned about the bottom crust, you can brush the pan with butter (instead of using baking spray) before baking.

This bread is perfect for breakfast ... with creamy butter and coffee, of course! 

Listen for God's Message

I’ve been seeing lots of internet articles, Facebook posts and comments about God’s creation of the COVID19 Pandemic.  Some call this a Biblical plague.  Indeed, there are 68 Bible verses pertaining to plagues and pandemonium.  They range from frogs to floods to earthquakes.  I don’t need a pandemic to get a message from God, though.  I hear from God on a regular basis.

I was interviewing a lady ten years ago for a story related to a tourism attraction, and as I got acquainted with her, she told me she was an intercessor.  I was a bit puzzled, and I guess my facial expression reflected that because she explained what she meant.  She was talking about the Spirit of God.  She opened herself up to God’s messages and as a result, God told her things through dreams and visions.  She began to tell me of some of the instances where this had happened to her.  The most intriguing was that she had a dream about 9/11.  She dreamed that two big buildings in New York City were on fire and that airplanes were on fire in several places.  She had never been to New York City, and she had never flown in an airplane. This dream had startled her to the point that she called the FBI headquarters and reported what she had seen.  Two days later, her dreams came true.  I wrote my story and planned to go back to visit her to inquire more about her Spiritual gift.  She died before I had the chance to do that.

God doesn’t speak to me in this way.  I believe what my new friend told me, but I don’t have visions or dreams about upcoming events, although sometimes my ‘gut feeling’ guides me! What I do experience on a regular basis is the notion that God’s hand is involved in something I experience. As I’ve gotten older and wiser, making decisions about things big and small is often done pondering good and bad.  I think those are ways that God talks to me!  I don’t think it takes a pandemic for Christians to hear from God.

There are 39 verses in the Bible about listening to God every day.  I was raised to believe that God’s hand is in everything.  When the devil is stirring up trouble, God’s hand is still there to calm the storm.  My dad believed that ‘everything was carved in stone from the beginning of time’ and I never saw him demonstrate that more than when his first-born child … his namesake … died way before his time.  My parents accepted that cruelty with calm.  I admired their ability to do that.  It was their faith that carried them through.
Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing … hearing through the word of Christ. 

Proverbs 3: 6 – 16 tells us that we should acknowledge God and let Him lead us.  It clearly states that if we look for wisdom, we will find understanding.  This passage says that we should accept God’s corrections because He leads those He loves. 

I guess the question right now is … is God correcting us through this time of COVID19?  I think the answer is a great big ‘yes’, but I think the issues aren’t just about ridding evil in the world.  Yes, we need to get back to everything that is good about taking care of our families.  We need to get back to basics … to our roots … and practice the things that bring about good.  If that means returning to church and religion … then do it.  If that means caring less about material things and more about doing for other people … then do it.  I think it means more than that.

At some point … or at many points … in recent history the United States has become too global.  I don’t know what politicians or political party decided it was ok to stop making products in our own country, providing jobs for American people … but they weren’t listening to God.  When would God have told us to destroy our economy by ignoring ‘made in the USA’ or ‘buy local’?  When would God have told us to eliminate jobs for American families … so there was less food on the table and fewer people living even a minuscule part of the American dream?  

God didn’t lead us to do those things.  God wants us to have common sense and to be smart.  The common folk in this country could have predicted … and many probably did predict … what we are experiencing now.

We can’t take care of our own, because we have grown too dependent upon products coming from other countries, specifically China.  We have sent American jobs to many other countries, leaving behind a workforce unable to make a living wage.  When you call a U.S. owned insurance company, you talk to people manning phones in the Philippines.  A customer service agent for a product we think is made in the U.S. is actually sitting in a cubical in India.  Are our cars still being made in Mexico?  Where did your television or your washing machine actually come from?  

It is time for all these things to stop.  It is time to bring it all back home.  This might be the real message from God.

Stay home. Stay safe. Save lives.

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