Tag Archives: vegetarian

Take a Bite; Be Back in a Bit

I know I have been very negligent, but please bear with me.I haven’t posted much here or answered many of your posts because I am SWAMPED with painting and redecoration and getting ready for Thanksgiving fun with food, friends and family.
I can’t wait for my cousins to get here, but I have let myself get behind. Now, the fun with food prep starts.
The family will be here from Wednesday through most of the weekend, so you may not see me.I will have to forgo the blogs and emails, but I’m thinking of you and hope you are all doing well and having fun , if not for Thanksgiving in your part of the world, at least finding peace.
I will be back and trying to play catch-up with you as much as humanly possible.I have so many new friends online through this blog;it is one of the things for which I am truly thankful for this year.

In the meantime,I leave you with this quick side dish or nosh; inspired by a blog-pal ‘The Perky Poppy’, to whom I give credit.
[http://theperkypoppy.com/2012/10/12/roasted-okra-bites/]

You need to try it; if you like this recipe,please let her know.

I think these would be great on a buffet for a sports party.How often do you see any vegetables there,(except maybe a dish of broccoli and a dip of Ranch)?

I did not have fresh okra available, so I tried a number of veggies.There would be more in the picture, but I ‘sampled’ them quite a bit!{And I can’t wait to get my hands on fresh okra!)
It couldn’t be easier:

Crispy Veggies

Toss whatever vegetable you have sliced in a light coating of extra virgin olive oil and dust it with sea salt, (or regular). Spread the vegetables out in a single layer and cook in a hot oven,(depending on the thickness of your vegetables;Perky Poppy said 500F for diagonally sliced okra;I lowered it to 400F for the thinner vegetables. Watch that they do not burn.)

I made,(pictured below):

Leeks,French green beans, Parsnips, Green Pepper, Baby corn-on-the-cob, Baby carrots.

I sliced the leaks and fanned them out, I kept the French beans whole;I made fingers out of the parsnips, and sliced the Green pepper and the Baby carrots.I used canned, whole Baby corn-on-the-cob.I drained them, blotted them on paper towels and sliced them in half. Don’t let the look of them turn you off as they are very good. (I will admit, however,that they might be good on the table for a gross-out Halloween meal,frankly, they look like caterpillars!)

These can  all be made beforehand and then quickly  re-crisped in a hot oven.

So , thanks Perky Poppy!

I will be back when I can.
Please keep coming by! I will ‘see’ all of you very soon,and can’t wait for what new posts you have to share!

They taste better than they look!

Pitfalls and Parties/Savory Bread Rolls

These easy bread rolls can be made with meat and cheese or as vegan- vegetable.They eaten warm or cold.

I know that the thought of hosting puts fear into many people. I may have jumped into telling you what to serve instead of how to serve guests.
When I had dinner parties, showers or receptions, I found that some people were downright intimidated by my offerings. You may have seen a buffet and thought, “I could never do that!” You probably can, but you don’t have to. Hosting can be fun, rewarding and make everyone think you are something, or it can stress you out, make you swear ‘Never again!” and make everyone think you are a witch, (and it wasn’t even a Halloween party.) You can make offerings short and simple, or pull out all the stops. We will approach all of these, and let you decide which is appropriate and when.  It may take me several postings, but I will try to give you tips and hopefully, some confidence.

 

Plan as far ahead as possible and do whatever you can as far ahead as possible. When you find the confidence, it will come easier each time. You will not only know the pitfalls and learn from your mistakes,( you will make mistakes), but you will have things in mind and on hand that you need, whether it be figuring out what to serve to where overnight guest will sleep. We’ll talk about it all upcoming in this blog.

 

You can over-do a good thing.

The first shower I threw was for an expectant mother. I made homemade cake with homemade filling and decorated it with blue and pink flowers. I molded flavored candy in bootie, rattle, baby bottle, (etc.), shapes in pink and blue. I made Madeline cookies dipped in pink and blue icing. I made finger sandwiches, nut cups and tea; I made coffee with all the amenities .I put up pink and blue streamers, made pink and blue sock dollies. I had several games, one of which was a basket filled with small baby items which I had the guests look at for 30 seconds and whoever remembered the most, got a prize; the mom got the items. It was something, I can tell you. But I did several things wrong:

#1. For whatever reason, when I have asked schools or churches to use their facilities, my group has been bumped at the last minute for someone else. Something about me and my plans seem to scream “Expendable”! Try to have your affairs in your home or pay for a site. In the occasion of the baby shower, I was supposed to have use of a school cafeteria. I was bumped for an Irish step-dancing class. As big as a book-lover as I am, I hated  but was desperate enough, to ask to use the school’s library. The library was on the third floor; the stairs leading directly to it were closed so the dancers’ bored-and-waiting siblings would not wander the school. So I had to all the food, decorations, gifts, etc, across the school, up one flight, across again, up another flight, then across the school again. I had to carry the hot coffee and tea from the cafeteria in the same pattern, very carefully and very slowly.

#2.I just plain over-did it.

I did not hear, “Oh, how lovely” or “How nice”. What I heard was, “I can’t believe how much you did”, to the point that a week later at another function I heard, “I kept telling Jim, (Julie, Bob), that I couldn’t believe how much you did”. It looked like I worked hard. Hosting should never look like you worked hard, and I want to see that you work as little as possible when pulling off your parties. I was not a close friend of the mom-to-be; I had taken it upon myself for the group from the school, but it may not have been my place, which may have added to the discomfort level of the others.

Don’t be too eager to please; only host when appropriate.

#3. I presumed on help.

Now, you should have everything under control, I mean, things happen. But if you accept help, make sure it is something that you can do without, or have a back-up plan. A friend of the mom’s volunteered a special punch. I planned on it; she changed the type without telling me.  What she made did not go with the food I had and the guests drank it because it was too warm for the coffee and tea. I felt stressed; it was a problem as the taste combinations were really being off.

AND I failed to be sure that some of those who attended, (whom I had always stayed to help), would/could stay there to help me. So I ended up doing the hallway-stair set-up marathon in reverse, by myself.

 

On the other hand, for years afterward I hosted a Christmas piano recital in my home for several years running, which were always a huge success.

Always be ready with extra food:

My sons were homeschooling at the time and they were studying with the same piano teacher as some of their homeschooled friends. The piano teacher had stopped having Christmas concerts but I decided that the kids needed to gain confidence and show off their skills, so every December we had our own little recital with their friends, the parents and a few adult guests.

I made my batches of Christmas cookies, candies and bread early, and froze either some of the dough or some of the finished goods for Christmas; (I did this up to a week in advance; the candy, maybe earlier.)

The day before the recital, (or the day of, if I held it on a weekday evening instead of a weekend afternoon),

I took the coffee table out, gathered every chair I could find and even a bench, (on which I put a folded quilt), and made several layers of seating in the living room behind the piano. We do not have a large living room; everyone understood when they sat knee-to knee at times.

While people gathered, I had Christmas music playing softly in the background on a CD. And I had small gifts for the performers.

Just before everyone arrived I made tea and coffee and spread them out on my dining table with the goodies for after the recitals. The children did whatever made them comfortable besides playing the piano; some sang, one played the guitar, one read a poem as well.

After one of the afternoon recitals a few of the guests lingered. I could see that the cheese ball and few other non-sweets were gone and the folk looked hungry. Fortunately, I was ready. I knew that I had savory bread roll-ups in my freezer. I pulled them out, warmed them in the microwave them and they were a hit, as expected. These are so handy and good. Make more than one type at a time. Slice, wrap well and freeze. These are great for snacks, late company, late-night movie watching, brunches and are our family’s traditional holiday morning breakfast. They are easy to get ready, are not messy, are a little special and will hold you over while you are waiting to eat a big mid-day meal. Guests will be impressed with the taste, the heartiness and the fact that you have them ready with next to no effort when you need them.

 

Savory Bread Roll-ups

 

If bread making is your thing, make basic dough. If you have a bread machine, pull it out. If not, use frozen bread dough, (thawed, of course).

Roll into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick on a floured surface. Brush with melted butter or margarine. Spread fillings (recipes to follow), to within two inches from all sides. Fold in the short sides; roll up from one long side to another, Pinch ends and press to close. Place on a cookie or baking sheet, which has been brushed with butter or margarine,(or lined with parchment paper); curve bread roll  if necessary. Slice or snip slits through top layer about 3-4 inches apart. Cover with clean kitchen towel , waxed paper or foil; let rise to double in size in a warm spot. Uncover and brush with melted butter or margarine. Bake at 325F for about 45 minutes- 1 hour, or until the bread is thoroughly browned.(Do not cook at a higher temperature; the middle will not bake).

Meat Filling Suggestions:

Chopped roast beef, or shredded roast beef lunch meat with shredded medium–to sharp cheddar cheese; (a little prepared horseradish sauce optional).

Shredded ham with mild cheddar cheese

Shredded turkey (or turkey lunch meat) with pepper jack cheese

Pepperoni or salami with mozzarella or provolone cheese

Cheese Filling Suggestions:

Any cheese, preferably with sautéed onions

Soft cheeses, (cream cheese, Neufchatel, mascarpone) with herbs and or dried vegetables:

[ Italian blend, or basil, parsley and marjoram;

Southwest blend or any favorite chili powder, (chipotle, mesquite, etc), cumin,for example]

Mixed with red or green salsa

Seeded,(poppy, pumpkin, caraway, sesame)

Mixed with red hot sauce

Mixed with sautéed vegetables; onions

Any favorite cheese spread, (pimento cheese, onion dip, avocado)

 

Vegetable Filling Suggestions:

Sautéed or caramelized onions

Hummus,( regular or vegetable, or mixed with seeds)

Sautéed vegetable combinations, (mix & match): onions, tomatoes, peppers, artichoke hearts, asparagus

Dehydrated vegetable flakes, (available often mixed in supermarkets or separate, (tomatoes, peppers), usually in specialty markets

Drained, mashed white beans (canned or homemade) with onions or garlic; chives, parsley, white pepper; dehydrated vegetables

Experiment and enjoy!

Note: Sometime after I posted this Fae, of “Fae’s Twist and Tango” posted a lovely alternative: use puff pastry instead of bread dough.Fae ‘s post with her version of fillings can be seen  here: Fae’s Savory Braided Puff Pastry.

If you have not visited Fae’s blog, please do!She not only has lovely recipes, but  photos and fascinating  stories from her many travels.

Thank you for letting me share this, Fae!

And please join me and fellow writers on a shared blog: “Four Foxes, One Hound” here, on WordPress.Four Foxes, One Hound

Meeting Hosting Challenges

Lent?

Or- Johnny’s New Girlfriend Doesn’t Eat Red Meat

Your father had a heart attack and Mom is at a loss as to how to cut cholesterol;

Janie comes home from camp and announces that she is now a vegetarian. What do you

do? (After arguing, which only strengthens her resolve).

Or maybe Jerome brings a Bangladeshi friend home with him from school. Your visiting cousin says that his wife has celiac disease.

DON’T PANIC.
You probably have enough on the pantry shelves and in the refrigerator/freezer for at

least one meal, a snack and breakfast before you feel the need to run to the store.

Don’t know if the vegetarian will eat eggs and dairy? Aren’t sure if a guest eats beef? First,

Play it safe. Offer something not possibly offensive. This is where knowledge of

meatless protein comes in handy. And then, Ask! Say, (in your sweetest, but most

unpatronizing tone),

“Do you have any dietary restrictions?”

Not your style? Practice it. This is always a good idea, as there are many people

with health related food requirements. What ever you do, avoid asking, “Is there

anything special that we can make for you?” That will only make your guest extremely
uncomfortable. They will not want to “put you out”. Being a good host means always making your guests comfortable and never seeming to be ‘put out”. If possible, enlist the aid of the person who brought them in. Try to tailor the family’s meals to suit your guest as much as possible.
No, Janie is not allowed to dictate that the family will now avoid all animal products, but if you have a Jewish or Muslim guest, please do not serve pork, or beef if your guest is a Hindu. It is only common decency respect other people’s religious sensitivities. That is being a good person and a good host. And believe me, there is nothing more frustrating than putting on a good show, only to have the guest pick at only a few things because they cannot eat the rest. All your hard work will have been in vain, and you find out only after tearing your hair that you possibly could have gotten off easier by meeting their needs. Even when I was young, people’s conversations with me seemed to gravitate toward food. When I was about twelve a teacher, whom I had all to myself , lamented over the previous evening. Her husband’s position had required them to entertain VIP’s from some exotic locale. She had looked into their dietary do’s and don’ts , pulled out all the stops, spending a great deal of time and money creating fine canapés and sweets pleasing to their eyes and she was sure, palates. They came in, she showed off, and they thanked her very kindly, but you see, they were sorry, but they were fasting as an observance of their religion. They wouldn’t touch a morsel. And she was stuck with platters of fancy foreign finger food, frustrated.
Right after we were married, a young man who was a friend of my husband’s family came to visit.
He was a tall, strongly built, active man, whom my husband warned me was a big
eater. He was in town, staying with his brother, and was going to visit us, starting

very early the next day. I made a huge breakfast of waffles, eggs, sausage, fruit and

more, but he had had breakfast. (Husband never thought to actually invited him for

breakfast, but that is an argument already fought). Anyway, he did eat, and lunched

well, and talked about his active life , all of the sports in which he was involved. He

came back through town a couple of years later. He was going to drop in to eat a

quick lunch with us and he was leaving from our place to

drive across the country. Husband asked me to fix a large bag dinner for him to take

on the road. As I was getting dessert, (something gooey), Husband brought sports up to

him. “Oh, no, not any more. I hurt my back, and I’ve had to radically change my life!

No more sports. Only whole grain foods, no more sweets, lots of fresh

vegetables…..” I panicked for only a second… that was all the time I had. I sent them

into the living room, as I sliced fruit, grabbed a jar of dry roasted nuts, pulled raisins

and dried fruit out of the cabinet to make a platter. “This is exactly how I should eat!”

he proclaimed. I had to change some of what I’d already prepared for his road bag,

but I made it, and he was happy. Husband was happy. And I was darned

pleased with myself.
Once I just plain lucked out. The story that I will tell another time about the family of nine who dropped in from out-of-state for dinner has one part missing. Having to quickly serve 13 people, I made large pitchers of fruited iced tea mix. Unknown to me, the father of the family was allergic to corn in any form, even corn sweeteners. The mix was, fortunately, sugar sweetened.
You can’t always rely on luck, ( however, as there are no atheists in fox holes or hospital waiting rooms, I might add that I have heard more than one muttered prayer or quick sign of the cross from many otherwise unreligious cook or chef when facing a culinary crisis), you can learn to rely on yourself and your shelf. You cannot possibly be prepared to set up housekeeping for every unusual contingency, but with a little knowledge and forethought, you can keep your head when faced with unexpected dietary needs of family and friends. You can come shining through.
Next time, we will talk about fish and meatless protein combinations and what you should have in your pantry cabinets at all times.