Through the Kitchen Window

March. Comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb. Or is it vice versa?? Can't remember anymore. But then, as my thirteen year old would say, "You're old mom. Your memory is worn out." Dunno if that's true or not, but I sure am leaning more and more towards believing him these days.

Anyway . . .

The good news first. I found the lost recipe request, thank you very much!! Seems I hadn't lost it exactly. More like I had filed it away so carefully, I'd forgotten where. I cleaned out my mail program folders and "presto, changeo!" there it was!!! For some unknown reason I'd filed it under "business docs". Couldn't tell you why, but at least I found it!! There's a couple of other requests that have joined its ranks this month too, so please make a point of reading the exchange section and if you can help out, fill out the submission form at the end of the column.

And now the bad news. Well actually, there is no bad news. 'Cept maybe that winter has finally reared its ugly head. The last day of January dawned with a vengeance in these parts and from what I hear in most parts of our northern clime. Almost as if it wanted to let us know that though it had been nice and easy so far, January is still a winter month. Got me thinking of cold weather foods like soups and stews and such. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!

Driving home from the office the other night I was thinking about my son's topic for his speech, Famous Sidekicks. That, of course, sent me off on a tangent about famous couples. Romeo and Juliet, Anna and the King, Smith and Wesson, Rogers and Hammerstein, Soup and Sandwiches. Hmmmmmmm. See, there's hardly any train of thought that, for me at least, doesn't eventually pull into the Food and Cooking station. Soups have got to be my all time favourite one dish meal. Has anyone noticed a trend so far?? Hehehe!!!

I think, if I have a "claim to fame" other than that I use many and varied herbs and spices, it's that I can make a soup from just about anything. I always tell those who ask that it's not really hard at all, just takes a little planning.

Anything Soup

Start with a diced onion (everything starts with a diced, sautéed onion), sauté it (I usually just do all the sautéing in the same pot that I'm planning to use for the soup, leaving all the flavours where you want them the most) with some leek and some celery. Remove the vegetables from the pot and brown some ground beef (or pork or veal or chicken or any combination thereof). When the meat is browned, pour into the pot -- over the meat -- two twenty-eight ounce cans of diced tomatoes, one can of water, the onion mixture and two bouillon cubes. Allow it to simmer for about twenty minutes, add some steamed rice and a nineteen ounce can of your favourite beans. Season the soup with a teaspoon of chili powder, a teaspoon of oregano, half a teaspoon of cumin and then simmer for ten minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings and serve it with grated Monterey Jack cheese and corn chips. I sometimes vary this by frying up some diced bacon and instead of using ground meat, adding diced leftover cooked chicken or turkey to the soup about five minutes before adding the rice. Or I'll use different herbs and spices. Or I'll use noodles instead of rice. Or I'll dice potatoes, browning them slightly in butter, just cover with water and simmer ten minutes before adding the tomato and seasonings. Or, instead of tomato and seasonings, I'll add stock that I've made from my roast chicken or turkey carcass. Then, after letting that simmer 20 minutes or so, I'll add frozen mini ravioli or any other pasta shape and cook till tender. You get the idea. Your only limitations are your imagination and the leftovers (or "planned-overs") in your fridge.

I have a favourite sandwich that's kind of a strange combination but is awesomely yummy. It comes from a cooking show I used to watch as a young bride, so you know I've been making it for YEARS!!! Ruth Fremes, at the time a real Canadian cooking "guru", used to host a morning cooking half-hour on the CTV network here in Canada, called What's Cooking. I loved that woman and her show. I think I learned more from her than any other teacher in my career. Unfortunately, I don't know where she might be now, but if you're out there, Ruth, kudos to you and many, many thanks. I don't recall the name of this particular sandwich (just for the heck of it, we'll call it Caesar's Egg Sandwich), if it ever had one and it's likely a combination you've never thought of, I know I hadn't. But do try it, you'll be glad that you did. It is the kind of thing that requires a bit of preplanning though, but can be put together in a flash if all the ingredients are at hand.

Caesar's Egg Sandwich

Caesar's Egg Sandwich

Here's what you need:

  • hard cooked eggs (that's another thing I learned from Ruth, they're hard cooked NOT hard boiled . . . LOL),
  • romaine lettuce washed and torn,
  • grated parmesan cheese,
  • good crusty Italian bread and
  • my jiffy "Cheater's Caesar" Dressing.

If I recall, Ruth used a homemade proper Caesar dressing, but the jiffy one is just as good.

Cheater's Caesar Dressing

Begin with one cup of good mayo -- I use Hellman's. Add the juice of half a lemon, two cloves of crushed garlic, about a quarter of an inch of anchovy paste (or a couple of anchovy filets that you chop finely) and freshly ground black pepper. Mix it all together to amalgamate it well, then stir in about half a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese and some black pepper. Then set it aside to allow the flavours to marry.

To build the sandwich, start with two thick slices of crusty bread and coat them generously with the dressing. Top one of the slices with some sliced hard cooked egg and season with freshly ground pepper. Toss the romaine lettuce in enough of the dressing to coat well and layer generously over the egg slices. At this point, you can add another layer of sliced egg or not, depending on how packed you like your sandwiches. My personal habit is to have only one layer of egg slices though I tend to slice the egg a bit on the thick side. Top with the second slice of bread, dressing side down and indulge!! Yummmmmm!!!

My son makes what he calls a breakfast sandwich by taking two slices of French toast -- no sugar added -- and filling it with a slice of cheese, crispy bacon and a second cheese slice. Or, try his version of a grilled cheese sandwich which includes an egg cooked "over firm", grilled peameal bacon and double slices of old cheddar.

Soup and sandwich season -- let your imaginations run wild. See what yummy couplings you can come up with.

Amazing Grace

The following Grace is another I've had in my collection for a long time. I look forward to receiving some of your favourites too.

For this food upon our table, for the birds
outside our door, we thank You Heavenly
Father, for these things and many more.
Recipe Exchange

Well, after a somewhat faltering start last month (thanks to yours truly), we're off to the races finally.

  • Sandra is looking for a recipe for Coney Island Chili, which was also used as a Coney Island Sauce. Apparently, in the 1950's, it was served at the Coney Island restaurants.
  • And Jesica writes in that her grandmother used to have a meatloaf recipe that used Pet Milk in it. It also had cream of mushroom & tomato soup, saltines, and peaches that were placed on top of the meatloaf and held in place with cloves. If you happen to have this recipe, she'd appreciate your help.
  • Mary wonders if anyone has a recipe for June Frosting. It's a very light whipped egg white frosting.
  • A different Sandra writes in to say she'd love to duplicate the Spanish Bar Cakes from A&P (this is a grocery store chain here in Canada) stores years ago.
  • A chat room friend was telling me about a recipe that she used to make as a child. Seems it was so simple to make that even as a young girl of nine she could put it together with no trouble. Her mom would call her from work and get her started on it so that by the time everyone was home, dinner was ready. She said it was a family favourite and both she and her mom would be grateful for the recipe again. She thinks it was called Orange Chicken and it included frozen orange juice concentrate, honey and paprika. When it was done, it resulted in a yummy main course with a sticky sweet coating. She's from Ottawa and apparently the recipe appeared in the Ottawa Citizen about 35 years ago.

So, if you have a recipe that you think fits any of the requests above, or if you have a request of your own, we'd love to hear from you. I will try to post the replies in the column for the month following the request, if I get them in time. One thing I should note: unless you tell me otherwise, I will use your first name only in the column. That will sort of identify you, yet still keep you "anonymous" enough.

Etcetera

The following recipe is a good one for us all to remember from time to time.

    A Recipe for Miracles
    • 1 part knowing who you are
    • 1 part knowing who you aren't
    • 1 part knowing what you want
    • 1 part knowing who you wish to be
    • 1 part knowing what you already have
    • 1 part choosing wisely from what you have
    • 1 part loving and giving thanks for all you have

    Combine the ingredients together gently and carefully using faith and vision. Continue mixing with a strong belief in the outcome until thoroughly blended. Use kind thoughts, words and actions for best results. Bake until Blessed. Give thanks again.

    • Yields: Unlimited servings.

Well, I'm off to fight the bluster of March. I'm contemplating pulling out my chili pot and making me a mess of chili. Chili, Sangria, Corona with lime - Hmm, waiting for April could be fun. Think I'll tuck right in and wait for Spring!!

TTFN . . . and remember . . . an optimist is a person who expects the ketchup to come out after three shakes.

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