Rainbow Chard

I’ve written many times that if my dad didn’t like a certain vegetable, it didn’t grow in his gardens! Swiss chard certainly was on that list! It was not on the tables of my childhood! My German grandfather probably grew it. He grew spinach for Grandma, who loved to keep ‘stewing’ in the deep Dutch oven in her stove. 

Swiss Chard, especially Rainbow Chard, is really popular right now. It hasn’t always been popular in American cuisine, however. Chard has been named many things. Silverbeet, Leafbeet, Strawberry Spinach, Roman Kale are among those names. As a result, the history of Chard is difficult to trace, but it is believed to have originated in a wild version in the Mediterranean, specifically on the island of Sicily. Chard was first described in 1753 by Carl von Linné, a Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician. Carl von Linné spent years classifying and naming plants and it was he who added “Swiss” to the name of chard, in an effort to differentiate it from French Spinach. Prior to that time, chard was listed as Leaf Beet in the 1484-page History of Plants, published in 1597 by English botanist, John Gerard.

Food historians identify Silverbeet as having been prominent in household gardens in England and in America by the 1830s. In 1829, Baltimore physician and entomologist Gideon Smith, wrote of receiving Silverbeet seeds from England. Prior to the Civil War, horticulturist Robert Buist promoted the vegetable in Philadelphia. As a result of his promotions, it became popular in various eastern cities. After the Civil War, it became widely cultivated although still a “specialty” plant.

During the late 1800s, chefs prepared Swiss Chard by separating the rib from the leaves. They prepared the stem/rib like they prepared asparagus. The leaves were used just like spinach but were generally available in the summer months after spinach and kale had died out. Chard refoliates, so gardeners could have as long as a six month growing season. In my little bit of research, I found a few recipes for Chard in Civil War era cookbooks. My favorite was the combination of Corn Pone and Chard. The chard was prepared with “fat back”, which to some is a delicacy and to others is scrap meat! The chard leaves and stems were cooked in a broth created by browning the fat back.

In my favorite vintage era, Swiss Chard was cooked the same way it was cooked in the late 1800s! The long stems were separated from the leaves and the author noted that you could have two vegetables for two meals if you did that. The stems were braised then simmered and served with a cheese sauce. The leaves, if tender, were served raw as a salad. Otherwise, the leaves were prepared like cooked spinach.

I want to encourage you to grill Swiss Chard. The flavor is a little bit sweet, a little bit smokey and a little bit savory. It is so easy to do, and you can throw it on the grill each time you cook. I think it goes with everything! I’m also sharing a couple other recipes from the last time I prepared it this way.

Grilled Rainbow Chard 

Clean the chard by removing about a half inch of the bottom of the stem. Wash the leaves, then pat dry them with paper towels. Stack the leaves on paper towels until you are ready to grill them. Use a spray bottle of olive oil and spritz each leaf with oil. Add salt, pepper and a little garlic powder to each leaf. Place them on the grill over low to medium heat, oiled side against the grill. Let the oil cause a little smoke, then turn the leaves and continue to grill. Serve with vinegar and parmesan cheese. You can also serve with balsamic glaze.

Grilled Lemon Chicken 

6-8 pieces of chicken
¼ cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 cup lemon juice from 5 lemons
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and herbs and let this stand for a couple hours so the flavors meld.

Begin grilling the chicken pieces over medium high heat but be ready to move it to a cooler part of the grill in the event of flare-ups. You don’t want burned chicken, but a little smoky flare is a good thing! Grill the chicken for about 15 minutes for legs and wings and 20 minutes for breasts and thighs, turning at least 4 times during the cooking process. Keep the grill lid on during the cooking time. Remove the chicken pieces to a shallow pan and pour the olive oil lemon juice combination over the meat. Turn the chicken pieces so that the entire surface is exposed to the sauce. Return the chicken pieces to the grill but place it over low heat and let it cook for another 5 – 10 minutes, basting a few times with the remaining oil. Chicken breasts should be cooked to 165 degrees and thighs to 170 degrees. If you are using boneless chicken pieces, it will take a little less time and if you have extra-large bone-in pieces, it might take more time.

Warm French Potato Salad 

My mom came from a long line of German cooks, but I don’t remember her ever having made warm German potato salad! She sure liked it when I made it, though. One of my blogging friends recently emailed this recipe to me and I’m pretty sure that the only reason “French” is in the title is because of the inclusion of Dijon mustard in the recipe. However, this combination of herbs is frequently referred to as French fine herbs. It is good cold, but it is better warm and those little fingerling potatoes make better still!

2 pounds small fingerling potatoes
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic paste
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh chervil leaves
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1 Tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves

Boil the potatoes in 2 quarts of water for 8 - 10 minutes, until the tip of a knife can be easily inserted. Immediately pour the potatoes in a colander, draining them well, but reserve a cup of the boiling liquid. Cut each potato lengthwise in half and place them flesh side up in a shallow pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix the reserved water with the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and garlic paste together and drizzle it over the potatoes. Let them stand for about 10 minutes, so the dressing soaks in a little. Then top them with shallot and herbs and toss them gently. Serve them warm or at room temperature. Set them in a warm oven to reheat or put them in a BBQ grill safe pan and place them on the hot grill to reheat.

This post is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetables project. I’ll also be sharing it on a couple blog parties, so make sure you check my side bar for that list. Click through for more partiers!

Spinach Lots of Ways!

Simple things make me happy!  I am delighted to live just 45 minutes from the birthplace of Elzie Segar, the creator of Popeye!  Chester, Illinois is the place!  1929 is the year that Popeye first appeared in one of Seger’s comic strips.  Spinach is the topic of today’s post.  We all know that Popeye’s strength came from spinach.  When I was a child, we could buy cans of spinach with the sailor’s picture on the label.  That didn’t make me like it!  Yuck.   My mother combined cooked spinach with her liver and onions menu.  I couldn’t stand any of it, but she was determined to make sure we got our iron!  Today I love liver and onions, and I love spinach … even out of the can!  To learn more about Segar, click right here.

Food historians believe that spinach originated 2000 years ago in Persia.  Then it was introduced to China via Nepal in 647 AD and was called the ‘Persian vegetable.”  In 827, Arabs introduced spinach to Sicily.  Spinach is first found in writing, recorded in 10th century Mediterranean works.  At the end of the 12th century, Spain was using spinach; a hundred years later it was known in Germany; and finally, spinach was introduced by Spain to England and France in the 14th century.  There is no wonder that we find spinach included in cuisine world-wide!   

It came to America with the earliest settlers and is found in an
American seed catalog published in 1806.  Spinach recipes are found in early American cookbooks … boiled, stewed, wilted.   By 1920, there are recipes for creamed versions of preparation.  In the 1940s, we start to see spinach layered with breadcrumbs … sometimes with broth … other times with cream … with lots of cheese.  It was also in the 40s when Americans began to enjoy crisp cooked spinach.  The still popular artichoke spinach dip became popular in the 1950s.  Baked sausage/spinach balls were also popular in the 50s, long before the packaged stuffing mix came out, and it reemerged in the 70s with the advent of the stuffing mix and the new recipe!  In 1960s and 70s we began to love eating it raw in salads.  Now, we drink it!  You can hide spinach in smoothies and fool the kids! 

I’m sharing a couple recipes today.  I have a grand daughter approved hot dip recipe, a bread maker recipe and shells stuffed with ricotta and spinach!

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

1 block of cream cheese
4 ounces Velveeta
4 ounces Queso Oaxaca
4 – 6 ounce jar of marinated artichoke pieces or hearts
2 cups fresh spinach, shredded
½ cup cream or canned milk
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon pepper

I make this in a small crock pot.  Cut all the cheeses into small cubes.  Chop the artichoke pieces so they are bite size.  Shred the spinach.  Put all the ingredients into the crock pot.  Cook it on high for 2 hours, stirring it a few times.  Serve it with chips, toasted bread, quesadillas or fresh vegetables.  Refrigerate any that is left and reheat it in the oven or microwave.

Spinach Swiss Bread

Place the following ingredients into your bread machine in the following order.

1 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
3 cups bread flour
½ cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon pepper
2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast.

Set the bread machine on the white loaf setting and turn it on.  When the bread is done, brush the top with butter.  It is scrumptious ... makes great sandwiches … and can be cut in fingers and toasted … and dipped in the hot Artichoke Spinach dip.

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells

Pasta recipes are often very large.  I have designed this one to feed 4 people with a side serving of vegetables or a big salad … or to feed 2 people.


12 large pasta shells
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded fresh spinach
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 egg
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
Small package of fresh mozzarella pearls
Jar of your favorite red sauce

Boil the pasta shells; drain them; run cold water over them to cool them.  Let them sit in cold water, so they don’t stick together

Prepare the filling by running hot tap water over the spinach to wilt it.  Drain it and squeeze the water out of it.  Doing this easy step makes it more pliable for the filling.  Mix the ricotta, parmesan, salt, pepper, parsley and spinach together.  Add an egg and mix it well.

Pour a little red sauce in the bottom of a medium sized baking dish.  Fill the shells and place them in the dish.  Stuff the mozzarella pearls on top of the filling in each shell.  The recipe will use just half a jar of sauce, so I pour it out into a measuring cup with spout.  I add a little sugar to any packaged red sauce to cut the tartness, but that is optional.  Pour the sauce around the shells … not on top of them … around them.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 more minutes. 

This article is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable Column.  To see similar posts, click my menu tab.

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Eggplant Pirogues

I don’t know when I first grew fond of eggplants, but I remember when I learned how to prepare the recipe I’m sharing with you today! On one of our many trips through the South, my husband and I visited Enola Prudhomme’s restaurant in Lafayette, Louisiana. I had crawfish etouffee in a pirogue. Don’t confuse that word with pierogi, a dumpling filled with potatoes or meat. In Cajun land, pirogues are the boats most commonly used. They are similar to a canoe, but lower and flat. Lewis and Clark had French pirogues on their expedition west. One of them was 41 feet long and carried 9 tons of supplies. You can see models of these boats right here. My pirogue at Prudhomme’s restaurant carried crawfish etouffee!

In Southern Illinois, our vegetable growers produce several varieties of eggplant. I love the egg shaped size primarily because one of them is a single serving. Slices from the egg shaped are smaller than what you typically see with eggplant parmesan, but that doesn’t matter. The egg shaped eggplants have origins in several countries. An almost Black Egg eggplant is from Japan. The Yellow Egg eggplant is from Thailand, and one that has a red tint is from India. My favorite is named ‘Ophelia’ and is from western European countries. History tells us that Caesar’s army carried eggplants from place to place and helped start the cultivation. If you are interested in the history of eggplant, take a look at another of my posts about eggplant.

What I love most about the recipe I’m sharing today is the fact that the eggplant is made into a boat and is used as the vessel for holding something yummy. In my research, I uncovered a couple other facts that encouraged me to create a ‘fusion’ kind of entrée. The use of a food item as a vessel is more than simply vintage! If you think bread bowls to hold soup were invented by your favorite drive thru soup and salad restaurant, guess again! Food lore reveals that in 1427, an Irish nobleman wanted to impress a British Duke. He served him something delicious in a bread bowl. The story says the Duke was so impressed that he gave the inventor enough money to open a bread bowl bakery in Dublin!

Tostada bowls hit the scene at Los Angeles restaurants in the 1930s. In an effort of eliminating the waste of stale tortillas, they were fried and formed into a bowl shape to hold other ingredients. How popular those bowls are today! They come already made in a few sizes and different shapes.

In South Africa, bunny chow emerged in the 1940s when Indians were brought in to work sugar cane plantations. Bunny chow had nothing to do with rabbits, but was a cube of stale bread, hollowed out like a bowl and used to hold vegetable curry. The workers carried their lunch that way.

American food history tells of pioneers who cooked in whole pumpkins and who used seashells or turtle shells as vessels. We know that gourds were dried and used as bowls, cups and scoops

Home cooks in my favorite vintage period, the 1940s and 50s were quick to dress up their foods with vegetables shaped into boats. I’ve written before about bologna boats filled with creamed peas! Zucchini boats were stuffed with meat combinations similar to the filling of stuffed peppers. To show a little contrast, when I was a kid, a favorite family friend of ours had so many cucumbers from her garden that she carved out boats and let the neighborhood kids race them in big washtubs of water … while at the same time, my aunt was hollowing out cucumber boats to fill with tuna salad for a fancy lunch!

This ‘boat making’ practice has never really died out and the very interesting list of methods and uses is a long one!

My recipe combines the Cajun deep fried pirogue eggplant with the African/Indian curry. It is a delicious combination! This recipe is for 2 servings. It is easily multiplied.

Shrimp Curry in an Eggplant Pirogue 

½ pound peeled deveined shrimp 
3 green onions, chopped (green part, too) 
1 Tablespoon canola oil 
2 Tablespoons yellow curry paste 
Dash of salt and pepper 
1 teaspoon Turmeric 
1 teaspoon Cumin 
½ teaspoon Chili pepper (more if you like) 
1-14 ounce can evaporated milk 

Put the canola oil and curry paste in a heavy skillet and stir the paste into the oil as you heat the oil. Use a paper towel to press the water out of the shrimp. Sprinkle all the other spices over the raw shrimp, then place them and the green onions in the hot oil to simmer away. The shrimp are done when they turn pink. As the shrimp are cooking, gently pour in the evaporated milk and let everything heat and thicken. Stir a few times.

If you can dual task … work on the eggplant boats while the shrimp curry is cooking. Otherwise, hold the shrimp while you prepare the eggplant.

Ingredients for fried eggplant boats:

2 egg-shaped eggplant 
Canola oil for frying 
Egg wash made with an egg and water 
2 cups of breadcrumbs 
Salt, pepper and garlic powder 

Begin by seasoning the breadcrumbs with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Use a couple dashes of each.

Cut the stem off the eggplant. Cut a slice off once side and hollow out the inside, leaving about ½ inch on the sides. (You can discard the flesh from the inside, but I would never! I add it to the Curry sauce. It will cook down in a couple minutes and help the sauce thicken.)

Dip the eggplant boat in the egg wash then in the breadcrumbs. Gently lower into the hot oil and fry them until they float. Make sure you turn and lower the eggplant so the inside fries, too. When the eggplant are done, remove them and set the upside down so oil drains off the inside. Serve the eggplant boats filled with the shrimp curry! Delicious!

This article is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetables project. Find more recipes at the 
Vintage Vege menu tab. 

I’m sharing this post with a few blog parties, so make sure you check the links in my sidebar.

Tastes Just Like Chicken Paprikash

The first time I had Chicken Paprikash was in a German restaurant in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  I was on a business trip, so my husband wasn’t with me, but when I returned home, I quickly found the recipe and made the delicious dish for him.  He wasn’t crazy about it, so through the years when I was hungry for Chicken Paprikash, I made something that tasted like it … but wasn’t quite as heavily spiced with paprika!  That dish was ok with Joe, and it became a good dinner party entrée as well!

Instead of using an entire chicken with pieces still on the bone, I thinly slice boneless skinless chicken breasts.  For the most part, the other ingredients are the same, but the time it takes to prepare this is less than 30 minutes … mush less than the real recipe!  The heavy paprika flavor comes with cooking the chicken pieces a long time, so while you lose that intense flavor in my made over dish … you can make up for it by heavily rubbing spices into the chicken slices. 


2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ stick of butter, divided
Canola oil, a little flour, salt and pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 Tablespoons sweet paprika
1 sweet onion cut into pieces
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 cups chicken broth
½ cup sour cream

Slice the chicken breasts into ¼ inch thick slices.  Combine the garlic powder, 1 Tablespoon of the paprika, salt and pepper.  Rub it into the slices of meat.  Let the meat stand for a few minutes, then dust each slice with flour.  Melt half of the butter with canola oil in a heavy skillet.   Pan fry the pieces of chicken.  When the chicken is done, remove it from the oil.  Add the onions to the skillet and sauté them until they begin to get soft. 

Add the chicken broth, tomato paste and remaining paprika to the skillet and stir it until it begins to bubble.  Add the chicken back to the sauce in the skillet.  The flour used on the chicken should thicken the sauce, but if it doesn’t … just make a slurry with cornstarch and water to thicken it.  The last thing you do is add the remaining  butter and a half cup sour cream.  Stir everything to blend well.  You might have to move the chicken pieces to one side of the skillet, while you whisk the sour cream in.

To serve, sprinkle the sauce with additional paprika and additional pepper for a more intense flavor.  Serve it with spaetzle or packaged egg noodles.  Add a nice green vegetable to the side and you have an incredible meal!  If you like the sauce, use some crusty bread to soak it up!  This tastes just like the real thing, but is easier and quicker to make!   If you are interested in another Tastes Just Like recipe, click the menu tab!  Enjoy!

Handkerchief Memories!

I have to admit that I swiped this cute idea from another blog!  I loved the idea of repurposing an old spoon display rack to this beautiful display rack for vintage handkerchiefs.  I had to look for a spoon rack, but I had plenty of handkerchiefs.  My mother had a few and I kept them.  My husband’s mother had several, and his grandmother left some that were still inside the birthday or Christmas card they were sent in.  Grandma Jones had relatives in multiple states, and it seemed to be a way for them to send a small gift.  I love that!

I created a Mother’s Day themed vignette in one of my favorite landing places!  The front porch offers views of my seriously overgrown rose bed, peony bush and soon to be clusters of day lilies!  I enjoy morning coffee and evening iced tea in that spot.  I planted some of those flowers 35 years ago, and I never dreamed I’d be confined to the house in 2020!  Did any of us?  I’m not planting annuals this year, so I am certainly going to enjoy my old favorites!

I found the spoon rack on eBay.  I have one, but not big enough for this project. I inserted one of Grandma Jones’ Blue Willow plates into the shelf on the spoon rack, just for fun!  I have an entire set of her china that was made in 1910 in Germany.  The handkerchiefs are easily inserted. They hang nicely.  No glue required!

You probably recognize Pioneer Woman pieces, I’m sure.  I'm a fan of her pieces like these scissors with the pretty floral handles.

The little handmade hot pad trivets are sold at a nearby Amish Market.  (I plan to make some of those, now that I’m retired!) 

I have many memories of pretty handkerchiefs!  My mother only used flowered handkerchiefs on Sundays! During the week, our handkerchiefs were white, and long after Kleenex started making boxes of tissues … we still used our cloth handkerchiefs! 

We always bought the prettiest Christmas handkerchief we could find and afford … for my Grandmother and for the elderly lady who lived across the street from us.  I had a Sunday School teacher when I was in the third grade, that hand tatted lace edges on handkerchiefs.  She gave me one for my birthday, and I still have it.  I think it qualifies as an antique!

Happy Mother’s Day!  I hope you get to celebrate in some special way, even if you just spend a little time reminiscing. 

Stay home … stay safe … stay well.

Crown the Asparagus!

Asparagus!  Let’s put a crown on it because it is a royal vegetable in my dining room!  When our daughter was 12 years old, the Boy Scouts came to the door soliciting canned goods for the food pantry.  She gave them all the canned asparagus in my cupboard.  She hated it.  Her daddy and I loved it.  It was expensive, but it was gone!

You might be thinking “who wants canned asparagus” … but back then that was the only way we could get it year-round.  I don’t even remember it being in the freezer section of the grocery store, and it was  certainly only available seasonally as fresh produce.

My husband had grown up eating asparagus because it grew in his grandfather’s garden and was probably there because it had been on the old homestead for generations. It is commonly found that way!  I had not grown up eating it.  In fact, I probably had never eaten asparagus until I was married!  That might be hard to imagine, but if my own grandfather or my dad didn’t like a vegetable … it was not grown in the family gardens.  It would have been far too expensive at our favorite corner grocery if it were available at all. 

My first relationship with asparagus was with an overly cooked incredibly soft vegetable, which my husband loved.  My current relationship is much different!  It is so good quickly blanched, chilled, and served with other crudités with a sour cream based dip. It is just as good, roasted gently and served alongside almost any meat!  Who doesn’t love it steamed and served with a cheese or white sauce? 

Asparagus has quite a history!  It was being cultivated by the Greeks and the Romans a couple hundred years before the common era.  There is indication that earlier Egyptians enjoyed it, as it appears in a specific frieze being offered to Nefertiti.  Hippocrates used it to treat diarrhea and urinary issues.  The Egyptians and the Romans believed that it was an aphrodisiac. 

In the mid-1500s, asparagus was found on the menus of the royal courts of Europe.  The next century, it was cultivated in France specifically for Louis XIV.  A hundred years after that, it was finally becoming available in markets and was being written about.
North American history tells us that European settlers in 1655 brought asparagus for their gardens.  A description of Dutch farming practices in the New World mentions asparagus.  William Penn’s advertisements for moving to Pennsylvania (in 1685) included asparagus in a list of crops that grew well in America!  By the end of the 19th Century, asparagus was being heavily cultivated in the United States, but was also an expensive product.

During my favorite vintage period, asparagus was popular.  In my 1940 vegetable cookbook there is a recipe for “Crumbed Asparagus”.  You boil the asparagus, drain it, bundle a few spears, and dip them in egg wash then in breadcrumbs … then gently fry the bundles.  Breadcrumbs were in vogue in the 40s as we were not wasting food.  In my 1950s vegetable cookbooks my favorite recipes include one of asparagus topped with white sauce with a red pimento strip placed across the sauce.  What a pretty presentation! On the cover of one of those booklets is a picture of asparagus spears served over toast triangles and topped with cheese sauce.  It was offered as an entrée, not as a side dish.  In a 1970 vegetable cook booklet, recipes for creamed soups and souffles called for asparagus.  That 1970 book also includes a recipe for roasted asparagus spears bundled with a strip of bacon!  That technique has come around yet again!

I’m sharing a quick recipe for using asparagus in one of my favorite Asian recipes.  You will not believe how easy this is to make.  If you want to serve it with noodles or rice, go for it!  I’m usually good with meat and vegetables!

Spicy Chicken with Asparagus


½ to 1 pound of chicken breast meat cut into bite-size pieces
8 stalks of asparagus (more or less) cut into bite-size pieces
3 green onions, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tomato chopped into bite-size pieces
½ cup chopped Tai Basil
2 Tablespoons of smoked sesame oil

Sauté the chicken breast pieces in the sesame oil until they begin to brown.  Add the asparagus, onion and chopped basil and continue to sauté.  At this point add the following:

1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon of white sugar
1 Tablespoon of Sriracha
A heavy sprinkle of garlic powder
A heavy sprinkle of black pepper

Gently heat all the ingredients until ready to serve.  Stir in the tomato chunks and heat them through. Garnish with additional Tai Basil leaves.

This preparation takes less than 30 minutes!

This article is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetables project.  Check the menu page to see similar posts.  I'm also sharing with a couple parties shown on my sidebar.  Make sure you click through for fun.

Stay home. Stay safe.  Enjoy cooking while you are home!

Support Each Other

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  Philippians 4:11-13 

I like to sing. I hum. I love music. On a rainy day in April 2014, I heard myself humming and I was startled. Why? Because I hadn’t hummed or sang a note … or listened to music … since my husband had died in May three years earlier. I knew I had reached a marker in the grieving process. At that point in time, my emotional health started to improve. Life with a broken heart was getting better.

I found myself singing yesterday and it reminded me of this 2014 moment. With all the issues that are swirling around me right now, I have a good life. I am fortunate that I could retire as ronatimes began, so income has not been an issue for me. My family has not experienced any illness during these times. I had to put down my good dog and I miss him terribly, but I have two little kittens coming soon, and I’m excited at the notion of becoming a crazy cat lady again! I haven’t had a cat for twenty years. I haven’t had toilet tissue for five weeks, but there are alternative products that I do have! My freezer and my cupboard are overflowing. I cook, so I eat!

Last night I was on a group text with my daughter and one of her best friends … who is like a second daughter for me! We had some serious conversation about health, agriculture issues and food shortages … and how people are acting right now … in general. All three of us had a soapbox and we ranted a bit, but in the end, we decided that our lives are good.

What strong women we are. Two different generations, but equally strong. Pondering this today made me look for a Bible verse that encouraged us to be content, even in times of trouble. In his letter to Philippi, Paul said that we shouldn’t just feel concerned about other people when they are in the midst of problems, but we should help them. Paul had learned to be content, himself, no matter what kind of troubles he was experiencing, and he certainly knew trouble. He also knew that new Christians were battling issues, but that they could find contentment and share it. They could hold each other up and strengthen each other's spirits.

That is what we three women had done. We vented, shared and strengthened each other with a series of written words. Our lives are far from perfection! These COVID-19 times are difficult. Add all the other perils of life to the batch of troubles, and we find ourselves in one nasty storm.

But we agreed that our lives are good and we know that spreading kindness just makes our lives even better.

Tastes Just Like Beef Rouladen

On a daily basis, I cook for one!  There are times when I get hungry for foods that are typically made in big batches, and I don’t want to wait until my monthly ‘Sunday Dinner’ that I prepare for my family.  I’m learning how to adjust those big batch recipes … to get the flavors I’m craving … but not get too much food for my empty nest.  

I’m sharing my recipe for my Tastes Just Like  Beef Rouladen.  I’ve made the real thing many times for dinner parties, especially when we celebrated Octoberfest!  My family has a strong German ancestry, but my mother didn’t cook that way.  Or so I thought!  In 1990, I decided to spend the entire year teaching myself how to prepare German food.  Little did I know … everything my mother prepared had a German twist to it!  I just didn’t understand that, growing up!

When I purchase a big beef roast, I divide it into 1 or 2 pound portions and freeze it.  I had a 2-pound piece of sirloin tip roast in the freezer, so that is what I used for my Rouladen.  What I did not take time to do was slice and roll the pieces of beef.  I put the whole roast in the crock pot and cooked it on high for 3 hours and turned it down to low for an additional hour.

Here are the ingredients:

A 2-pound beef roast; any cut will do
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon dried orange peel
1 teaspoon dill seed
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
Several grinds of black peppercorns
4 slices of bacon
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of red wine
1 onion, chopped
6 cornichons or 2 dill pickles cut into sections
1/2 cup of juice from the pickle jar

Place the water, red wine and pickle juice in the crock pot.  Rub the meet with all the spices and place it in the crock pot.  Lay the bacon slices over the roast and cut slits into the meat and stick the pickles into the slits.  Make a brown gravy with the broth from the meat.  Make a slurry of cornstarch and water; skim the grease off the broth; add a little Kitchen Bouquet to the broth and stir in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the broth to a boil so it thickens.

This recipe tastes just like the real thing, but takes so little time to make.  It would be wonderful with mashed potatoes, spaetzle or wonderful fried potatoes!  Enjoy!

Acorn Squash - Delicious!

 When the Pilgrims reached America’s shores, they were eventually met by Native Americans that shared food with them and taught them how to grow vegetables.  Squash was one of those vegetables.  Prior to that time, Columbus took squash back to Spain from his New World.  For a couple centuries, Conquistadors took South and Central American squash back to places on their routes including Africa and Asia. 

My favorite vintage era home cooks didn’t care about the history of those hard skinned winter squash!  There are very few recipes found in my collection of cookbooks from those times … other than the simple squash split, quartered or cut into rings … and baked with a little cinnamon and brown sugar.  I suspect that the difficulty in cutting winter squash made them far less popular than their summertime counterparts.

In 1976 (I know this because that is the year I got married!) a women’s magazine featured a stuffed squash on its cover.  My new husband proclaimed that he loved acorn squash and he wanted me to make this recipe.  Of course, I did.  I cannot possibly count the number of times I have made it since!  It is a favorite.  I’ll share that recipe with this post.

There may have been a half million home cooks who made that featured recipe that year, but it didn’t make acorn squash any more popular!  Ten years later, the Chicago Tribune featured an article that began to popularize this delicious vegetable.  The vegetarian and healthy eating movements that followed strengthened its growing popularity.  By the time the overly popular trend of roasting vegetables came around, the buy local produce from farmers trend easily provided consumers lots of winter squash … including the Acorn!  Now, many of us enjoy winter squash in our year-round diets.  Butternut and Acorn squash cubes can be found already prepared in the produce section of the supermarket.  Butternut cubes are now sold frozen, and we have no excuses about preparing it.

I’m going to stick to Acorn Squash recipes today but let me tell you than while a Butternut can be peeled in the raw state … an Acorn is much more difficult.  When you want to use Acorn Squash it is easier to bake it whole, then remove the flesh.  All you have to do is cut the squash in half; remove the seeds; place it skin side up in a baking dish with an inch of water in it; and bake it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Check it a couple times to see if it has softened.

If you want to start with raw cubes of Acorn Squash, the easiest way to peel it is to cut it in rings, then peel each ring.  Because of the ridges down the side of the squash, it is difficult to peel, otherwise.

For my delicious Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash … you want to use the baking method.

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

This recipe is enough for 4 small to medium sized squash.  Remove the stem top of each squash.  Remove the seeds and stringy membrane from each squash.  Place the squash skin side up in a baking dish with 1 inch of water in it.  Lay the ‘lids’ (tops you cut off) in the water, too.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.  The squash will have softened.  Remove the dish from the oven; check to see if the squash is done; turn the squash right side up and let them cool on a wire rack or on a towel on the counter top.  When the squash is cool, you will use a spoon and remove the flesh to a mixing bowl.

For the stuffing, fry 1 pound of crumbled breakfast sausage.  When the sausage cools, add it to the squash.  Add the following:

2 Tablespoons of dried minced onion
¼ cup of brown sugar
½ teaspoon of powdered sage or poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper
1 large egg
2 slices of bread, crumbled
½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all these ingredients together and stuff the squash.  Return to the oven and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until the stuffing is firm.  You can add a little more shredded cheese to the top of each one … replace the lids and serve.

Yes, these take awhile to prepare but they are impressive and delicious!

I’m sharing this article as part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetable project.  If you’d like to see similar articles, just click through the menu tab.  I’ll also be sharing with a couple blog parties, so check the list on my sidebar.

Stay safe and enjoy!

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