Bubbly Flatbread

Flatbread is such a versatile, happy bread. We’ve been using it a lot lately to create low sodium dinners. It’s fun to use as a crust for a personal pizza, to build an epic sandwich, or to just slap on a slice of cheese and warm it in the microwave for a cozy snack. I’m planning on making French Dip sandwiches with some leftover venison roast and a couple of flatbreads this weekend. Try anything! Continue reading “Bubbly Flatbread”

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Cauliflower ‘Faker’ Tots

Everyone has a favorite knife, and this is mine. I have four of them, remnants of a decades-old set of steak knives. I know they are aren’t intended to be used for everyday food preparation, and I do own better knives, but I just keep grabbing these. They are still very sharp. The serrated edge is super-helpful, and my hand and that wooden handle know each other so well. This old knife chops the cauliflower, peppers and onions I need to make ‘Faker’ Tots. These delicious treats are just right for low-sodium and low-carb diets. Tonight, I’ll be serving them with a low-sodium macaroni and cheese dinner. Gotta love ‘kid food’ meals.

The Best Knife In My Kitchen
The Best Knife In My Kitchen

These tots are best served straight out of the oven, with only enough cooling time to avoid burning mouths. The crunch and flavor are utterly satisfying. You can, of course, dunk them in ketchup or your favorite dips if you like, but they are absolutely delicious on their own.

Hot and Crunchy!
Hot and Crunchy!

Before combining everything and getting into tot-mode, I like to throw the fresh chopped veggies under the toaster-oven broiler just until they start to develop some browning. This step is optional, but I feel it increases the depth of flavor. It also softens  the veggies, making it easier to press the tot mixture down tightly in the mini muffin tins. Click these pics for a more detailed look at the broiling effect.

Before A Quick Toaster-Oven Broil
Before A Quick Toaster-Oven Broil
After A Quick Toaster-Oven Broil
After A Quick Toaster-Oven Broil

Mini muffin pans have cups that are the perfect size for this recipe. And the pans are flexible, so your tots can be popped out easily.

My Well-Used Silicone 12-Cup Mini Muffin Pan
My Well-Used Silicone 12-Cup Mini Muffin Pan

Mmm. I’m having trouble keeping my fingers off this picture as I type. I’m hopelessly hooked.


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Low-So Dilly Spears

If you are new to the low sodium lifestyle, you’ll need to be a bit patient with yourself while your taste buds ‘gear down’. At first, you’ll miss the salt. But after a week or two, low sodium foods will start to taste better and become more satisfying. Continue reading “Low-So Dilly Spears”

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Easy Gardening Project: Growing Garlic

Growing garlic isn’t difficult. I live in mid-Michigan in gardening zone 5B, where we plant garlic cloves in late fall, just around the time the first freezes hit. This way they can winter over, and we will see their green shoots come up in the spring. By late summer next year, they will be ready to harvest. The only care they will need during their life cycle is occasional watering in dry weather, and keeping the weeds at bay.

Want to know what your gardening zone is? Enter your zip code at Michigan Bulb’s Zone Finder. It’s good to know your zone when choosing plants for your yard.

Here’s pictures of some of this years haul. These are the cloves I’ve saved aside to return to the garden to become next year’s garlic plants. I chose these because they’re so huge. Every year, I re-plant the biggest of the cloves, and over the past couple of decades, I’ve developed a mighty garlic army!

What’s that you say? They don’t look so big in this bowl?

Well, let’s compare them to quarters for size reference. No, those aren’t dimes. They are quarters. Dwarfed by my garlic cloves.

That is one huge garlic clove. George Washington looks nervous.

Below, you can see the pointy ends, and the one blunt end (second from right). That’s how you know which way to plant them. Poke holes three inches deep and four inches apart in weed-free soil. Push one clove down into each hole, pointy end up, blunt end down. Pat dirt over the hole to fill it, and go do something else until next summer. So easy.

The garlic that isn’t getting re-planted has been dehydrated and crushed into small pieces. These are easy to store, and can be used in all sorts of soups, stews, sauces, and even things that don’t start with ‘S’. If you have a mighty blender or food processor, you could pulverize dehydrated garlic into powder.
Here’s some simple advice about drying garlic.

If you are growing a ‘hardneck’ variety of garlic, they will develop a ‘scape’, which is a long, center stalk that forms a  loop before ending in a flower. These scapes are useful!
How to Cook with Garlic Scapes

If, like me, you choose not to use the scapes and flowers, you can leave them on the plant and let the flower go to seed. I know that scapes draw nutrients away from the forming garlic heads below ground, but in my experience, not by much. Your mileage may vary. After a few years, you’ll know what you want to do about the scapes.

The scape flower seeds, or as we call them at my house, ‘pearls’, will eventually burst free from inside the flower casing and dry in place on the stem. You can save these pearls to plant, if you wish to increase the size of your own personal garlic army. I’ve done this many times. The underground garlic heads will be smaller than those grown from cloves, but they are still perfectly usable and just as delicious.

 

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Review: On Both Banks

It’s always a pleasure to edit a good book. I was delighted to assist author Clarence L. Harper IV by editing and formatting his strange, compelling book, which I’ve mentally branded with a new genre I made up myself: “Comfort Horror”.  Intrigued? You should be. I do recommend you sink deeply into this unique tale.

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Review: Roots: Insights From the Tree Alphabet of Old Ireland

For a few decades, two old apple trees shared a back yard with me. Over the years I got to know them well. My canning shelves filled up with applesauce, pie filling, apple butter, and bags of dehydrated apple chips. There was nothing I didn’t know about my apple trees. Or so I thought.

Olivia Wylie’s book explores the connection between trees, ancient poetry, unusual botanical insights and a very old Irish writing system called Ogham. I was drawn back to the apple trees to learn more of their secrets.

Now I know that the apple tree is the embodiment of perseverance. I learned that Brehon law designates it as a Noble of the Wood. I learned how apple trees are connected to Beltane and Samhain, and why people of northern Europe depended on them for their very lives. I even learned about the apple trees connection to King Arthur and Avalon.

And that’s just one of the Ogham’s stories. Just one character in the language. There are twenty Ogham symbols, and each one carrys a rich treasure trove of meaning.

Olivia Wylie is not only the author of Roots: Insights From the Tree Alphabet of Old Ireland, she’s also the illustrator. Her artwork melds each tree with the Ogham in a delightful mix.

I quite recommend this book. In fact, I’m rooting for it! (I apologize).

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City and Country Croutons

When I was a kid, my gramma would always tell me to “eat the crusts, they’ll make your hair curly”. She might as well have told me to “eat the crusts, they’ll make your face fall off”. The last thing I wanted back then was curly hair. But I was an obedient child and did eat my crusts. Perhaps that’s why I now have very curly hair. Continue reading “City and Country Croutons”

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