I am posting this little story sent to me by a friend--it's making its way around my email contacts, and definitely worth repeating here...a good insight for this first day of Lent, too!
His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog.
There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.
'I want to repay you,' said the nobleman. 'You saved my son's life.'
'No, I can't accept payment for what I did,' the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel.
'Is that your son?' the nobleman asked.
'Yes,' the farmer replied proudly.
'I'll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy If the lad is anything like his father, he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.' And that he did.
Farmer Fleming's son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.
Years afterward, the same nobleman's son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia.
What saved his life this time? Penicillin.
The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill .. His son's name?
Sir Winston Churchill.
Someone once said: What goes around comes around.
Here's a VERY quick recipe with everything you should already have in your pantry and refrigerator--
BLACK BEAN SOUP
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped fine--(OK to chop leaves up too)
2 carrots, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic (can add more!), finely chopped
SAUTE above together until carrots are soft.
1 28 oz. can of tomato puree (OR puree in blender, a 28 oz can of diced or whole tomatoes)
1 cup water
1/2 cup strong black coffee (that would be the end of the morning pot)
2 tbsp lime juice (OK to substitute lemon juice)
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground coriander (if you don't have on hand, omit and add to pantry list for next time)
Salt (about 1 tsp or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper -to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste if you like extra kick
Raise heat to boiling, then reduce heat and continue to simmer about 15 more minutes.
Then, add 2 cans of black beans (rinsed and drained) and heat through.
Finally, run an immersion blender through the soup for a few pulses until solids are partially broken.
The soup is perfect as is, BUT, if you like ham in your bean soup (and lots of people like my husband do)--then put a leftover ham bone in to simmer along with the broth (noting you must be certain to cook previously heated foods up to 165 degrees). Then remove and allow the bone with leftover ham to cool. Then cut off the meat and add to the pot when you add the beans.
OR- if you don't have a ham bone (like me today), you can use a small can of SPAM, chop it into small pieces. toss it in the soup and add a few drops of Liquid Smoke for a nearly identical flavor.
Either with or without meat, top with a dollop or sour cream or yogurt--to keep vegan, use soy yogurt.
Packed with fiber, natural sources of antioxidants protein, and vitamins!
Here's a new take on an old favorite--one usually sees Chicken or Veal or even Eggplant done "parmesan" style but this one is done with Turkey cutlets thanks to the "Buy one get one free" special at my local grocery chain.
You CAN substitute any of the above items in this same recipe in the recipe, however.
And, it could be a quick and easy Valentine's Day dinner, too!
4 turkey cutlets, pounded thin
1 egg, beaten--in a shallow bowl
1 cup of bread crumbs (Panko bread crumbs really crisp nicely, but any will do), mixed with:
1 tbsp dried Italian herbs (mix these with bread crumbs, on a plate for breading)
Dip cutlets in egg, then into seasoned bread crumbs. Fry in olive oil in a skillet on medium heat, until both sides are crisped. (see picture above)
Arrange on the bottom of a casserole dish. Cover with 1 jar of marinara sauce and sprinkle top with mixed Italian cheeses (shredded or shave mozarrella, romano, parmesan.)
Refer to picture opposite.
Bake in 350 degree oven until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees about 45 minutes to 1 hour, confirm with meat thermometer.
Serve over pasta noodles (angel hair, linguine, spaghetti--all are fine) and with salad.
There's something about January and February and March that seem to make them go on forever--besides the weather, that is. I think it's because it is one of the longest periods in the year where you are homebound and you have little to celebrate.
Valentine's Day is an exception, but it's limited to the lovers, not really a "family" or "singles" celebration time and it's just one day without a lot of anticipatory excitement.
You might be lucky if someone's birthday falls during those months, but again, it's just one day out of three-plus months of darkness and gloom.
So, I am suggesting that you perk up your mantles or shelves and mirrors with some random "little lights." Set on a timer, you may never have to enter a gloomy living room or kitchen again.
I have little lights in "seasonal" garland on my library fireplace mantle, little lights on my living room fireplace mantle (pictured above) nestled with some feather-y chickens and a vase--and in my kitchen on a "created" window sill.
My faux window sill is a shelf set underneath a curved mirror, to mimic the window it is placed opposite (see above picture). The mirror is hung above an old dressor I've appropriated as storage for large pans and serving ware. A piece of glass on top allows the surface to be used as a beverage service area.
So for under $10, it's possible to bring a little holiday mood into a couple of rooms of your home to make the winter pass a bit more cheerfully.
It's snowing again, surprise?
The only good thing about it is that bad weather inspires you to stay in the house and nest (or "hunker down" as the case may be). I am hunkering down and cooking now that my morning farm chores are done outside. The pictures above are shots of the two items I have just started to cook. I'm doing my weekend cooking at the same time, leaving me free to attend a mandatory workshop tomorrow.
I have a decent sized 3-4 lb chuck roast defrosted and am making two different recipes at the same time:
"EVERYTHING" BEEF VEGETABLE SOUP
SLOW-COOKED SHREDDED BEEF TACOS
So, here we go with the recipes.
As usual with my recipes, the amounts are estimates. You can always add more water or different vegetables to the soup depending upon what you have available in your pantry and refrigerator. I expect you will always adjust seasonings to taste. My personal preference is to always assure there is garlic and/or onion in soups and I add cooked tomatoes and/or carrots to most soups as well. These additions are for nutritional considerations.
Divide the chuck roast first. The bones and about 1/3 of the meat go into your soup pot. The remaining meat goes into your oiled crockpot.
"Everything" Beef Vegetable Soup
To the beef and bones, add 8 cups of water.
1 cup each of the following fresh vegetables:
Chopped onion (1 medium), sliced celery (3-4 stalks), sliced carrots (4 small), chopped cabbage (about 1/4 head), diced potato (1 medium)
AND 1 large can (28oz) diced tomatoes with the juice.
Season with salt, pepper, about 1-2 tbsp dried herbs blend and 1 bay leaf.
Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer at least one hour.
Remove beef, bones and bay leaf. Discard bones and bay leaf.
Allow beef to cool, then chop and return meat to pot.
While the soup is cooking, the crockpot recipe is ridiculously easy.
Shredded Beef Tacos
Arrange the large chunk(s) of beef from your chuck roast on the bottom of an oiled crockpot.
Cover with 2/3 jar (15.5 oz) salsa
Cover and cook on "LOW" all day (8 hours or until you're ready.)
Remove meat to a plate. Using 2 forks, shred meat. It's now ready for use as taco filling.
Serve in soft or hard shells according to your taste. Use remaining salsa as topping along with shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, etc.