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Friday, 31 July 2015
African Vegetarian Stew and Chapati
Topic: Education and Values

I just got back from Africa, Uganda specifically--following a medical mission to a hospital in Nebbi district. This was my second trip and I already miss the patients, staff and entire environment. There is a simple, pure honesty in their day-to-day life, unfettered by the materialism of our western culture.

My observations of their daily rhythms expose the often artificial nature of a day in our lives. Funny values we have, often self righteous to a fault: predominantly consumers, not producers, often petty, unkind, pitting one against the other, instead of uniting. We fail to act as community, instead as little self-interested groups, and this behavior is encouraged by our political leadership. We behave with a poor conceptualization of individuality. 

The Socratic saying, "The unexamined life is not worth living" still applies, we should heed that advice.

Instead of preaching about values, let me share a recipe for a meal we often had--seasonal vegetables in a stew, prepared in a kettle over an open firewood fire. Even at the "hotel" in Nebbi, food is prepared off site in an open kitchen, over a wood or charcoal fire. (Yes, they make their own charcoal!).  No "fast" food here, also no GMOs, no preservatives or chemical additives.


 African Inspired Vegetarian Stew

serves 4

4 medium carrots, sliced ½ in thick

1 small onion, chopped larger chunks

1 medium zucchini (without seeds) chopped larger chunks

1 large sweet potato or small eggplant, chopped (you might use pumpkin or other hard squash here)

1 small green pepper, chopped

2 large Russet potatoes, chopped

28 oz can crushed peeled and seeded tomatoes

1 tsp salt (iodized, universally needed for thyroid function)

Chili sauce, to taste—

OR—if you prefer north African seasonings:

½ tsp red pepper flakes, 1 Tbsp Za'atar, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp dried thyme,1 tsp dried parsley or fresh parsley chopped

If in Africa—you'll have to bring to a boil over an open fire in a kettle, then cover and bury in ashes next to the fire or cover with hay and incubate for several hours until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked.

If in the US—suggest putting in an oiled crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. OR- in a Dutch oven, bring to a boil, then cover and bake 2 hours in a slow oven 300 degrees until vegetables are soft.

The Vegetable Stew should be served over rice. I cooked 1 ½ cups dry rice (3 cups cooked) to be divided between 4 bowls, then ladle stew over. . I used canned peeled and seeded tomatoes, imagine if you had to produce the same from fresh tomatoes--you CAN do it, but thankfully, we have the canned product readily available and nutritionally it is equivalent. 

Serve the stew with homemade CHAPATI, an African flatbread. 




Chapati (African flat Bread)

4 slices

1 cup all purpose flour

1 Tbsp oil

½ cup water

½ tsp salt.

Combine in a bowl and divide dough into 4 pieces.

Roll each piece flat, adding extra flour to avoid sticking.

Fry each piece in an oiled pan, turning once. Start with 1 Tbsp of oil in the pan, then add more as needed.


Enjoy this fabulous dish of simple, pure vegetables and easily made fresh flatbread...






Posted by Karen at 17:43 CDT
Updated: Friday, 31 July 2015 18:46 CDT
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Tuesday, 26 May 2015
It's Spring!
Topic: Education and Values


We are well into the chaotic, amazing, unpredictable Season of Spring! What an exquisite annual rebirth it is!

We have all the expectations of Easter, Mother's Day, the countless graduations, end of schools' year, bridal showers for June weddings, Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Spirit, —

AND- the new seedling started indoors (they better be outdoors and hardening and ready for planting now!), the new in-ground potatoes and items start-from seeds (hey better be in-ground by now!)

And yet—the joys of pre-planning should be obvious!

We have been harvesting asparagus by the handful for the past month, right?


 We have been sniffing the aromas of the lilac bushes in our yards...

(We've been sneaking some of these into our kitchens )

And, if not—now is the time to consider adding flowering bushes and early spring perennials into our lives for the future.

Do you have your planters full of edibles? If not, why not?

Remember that plant foods begin to die as soon as we pick it. The nutrients deteriorate as the fruits and vegetables oxidize. So—plant edibles wherever your patch of Sun is!

Sneak a pear or apple tree into your backyard, instead of one more ornamental.Those little pear buds will be amazing fruits late Summer. 


If you absolutely cannot find one spot to plant something harvestable and edible fresh from the vine or cut from the stalk or plucked from the tree—then promise me that you will visit your local Farmers' Market every week and eat plant items that were, literally, just picked, and prepare them for your family.

More to come—recipes for you from vegetables from the Farmers' Markets!

Posted by Karen at 18:16 CDT
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Saturday, 23 August 2014
Use your Crockpot and Create a Great Dinner Salad
Topic: Education and Values

Crockpot in Summer?

Even when it's so miserably hot and humid? And you have no appetite for anything?

You Bet!

This is the perfect time for a crockpot assist with dinner.


Remember, your main course can be cooking while you're at work, it doesn't heat up the house, and needs no supervision.

So why not try this simple recipe for a delicious Savory Mexican-inspired Dinner Salad?

And the crockpot is the main reason it's so easy!

Put a lean, boneless pork or beef roast in a lightly oiled crockpot, pour on top of the roast- one cup of prepared salsa or enchilada sauce --red or green-- then cover and cook on “low” all day.

When you're ready for dinner, remove the roast to a large plate and shred the meat using 2 forks. Return the meat to the juices in the crockpot.

Make a salad with Romaine (or other dark leaved lettuce or combination of salad greens), chopped fresh tomatoes, seeded chopped cucumber or diced jicama,  and one can of rinsed and drained black beans.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the salad ingredients. Add a dressing made with equal parts citrus juice and olive oil dressing (your choice lemon, lime, combination, some orange?). Add chili spices, salt and pepper, maybe some citrus zest. Toss together –40 times, remember?

Plate the dinner salad with a base of the prepared salad. Using tongs, place meat on top. Add a dollop of sour cream, guacamole, shredded cheese, crushed corn chips, etc—your choice.




Leftover shredded meat can be used to make enchiladas, a burrito casserole or tacos for another night's dinner!

Posted by Karen at 12:47 CDT
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Thursday, 14 August 2014
YOU own your reality!!!!
Topic: Education and Values

My artist friends—and aren't we all?--think about this...your environment is under your control, so...

you can create anything!~

If that's true, then—consider this....make your world....your stage....your personal space.

My beloved and brilliant sister and I recently saw the movie...The Hundred Foot Journey.

If you are lucky, you'll see it in your community—it's in limited theatres.

So, of course, walking out of the movie, I craved Indian food and ….the environment of Provence!

Directly to ACE hardware for Provence blue and exterior doors painted within the next 24 hours.

YOU can create your own reality. And if it just takes 1 quart of paint...how lucky are we?

See your garage door and outside doors –not as exterior doors—but as the entrance to your gardens—why not?

create your own reality...one quart of paint!




Posted by Karen at 17:40 CDT
Updated: Thursday, 14 August 2014 17:49 CDT
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Monday, 28 July 2014
Using an Indoor Stove Top Grill Pan
Topic: Education and Values

Using an Indoor Stove Top Grill Pan

Summer! And EVERYTHING should be easy!

Or at least dinner every night ought to be!

We are now blessed with abundant fresh vegetables, so salads of all kinds are possible. And, the outdoor grill is accessible for cooking outdoors. It's very easy to make a quick marinade and put your choice of meat in a ziplock bag or glass pan , add the marinade and place in the refrigerator until you come home from work. (See posts from last month about making marinades from herbs you're growing now.)

But, sometimes, we don't have time for the outdoor grill, even when it just involves turning on the gas outlet. Or maybe, you live in an aprtment or condominium that does not allow outdoor grilling. No worries!We can still put together a very savory, grilled dinner in the house using a “stove top grill pan.

In the picture below, I show marinated boneless chicken thighs grilling on a stove top grill pan.


The indoor, stove top grill pan can be used for anything you might grill on the open grill outdoors. Of course, you won't have the option of smoky flavors. But you will have the opportunity to still have those lovely grill marks!

Stove Top Grill Pans are readily available in homegoods stores. To use the pan, apply a light coating of oil, then heat it over a medium-high to high heat  on a large burner so the entire pan becomes equally hot. Sprinkle a little water to test for a hot pan before you put your food on it. The water should sizzle, then it's ready--(this is the same as testing for heat before you make pancakes on a flat skillet!) Make sure you cook all meat and fish to appropriate internal temperatures, this is ensured by using a large burner under the grill pan and by leaving the meat until it's cooked to half-depth of the meat before you turn it. Generally the food is turned only once.

Interestingly, with a grill pan, after cooking the meats (or vegetables) you can de-glaze the pan with a little white wine or lemon juice by boiling the liquid down. Then, drizzle the juices over the main course, increasing the flavor. For example, if you make marinated kebabs with vegetables, then serve over rice or quinoa or lentils, you can de-glaze the pan with some lemon juice. When you plate the kebabs, drizzle the juices over the kebab meat and vegetables to increase the flavor.

I started the de-glazing when the chicken thighs were already grilled, by drizzling lemon juice into the pan, allowing the meat to be glazed in the process of boiling the juice. My marinade was simple lemon juice and olive oil (2 tbsp each), generous oregano, basil, and salt and pepper—all in a Ziplock bag with the boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the refrigerator all day.

Below you'll see the plated, grilled chicken thighs with a side of quinoa and rice and a simple salad of mixed greens and cucumber.

Simple Summer!



Posted by Karen at 15:10 CDT
Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014 15:16 CDT
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Saturday, 28 June 2014
French Inspired!
Topic: Education and Values


My subconscious mind has been focused on France while I practice flute for next month's Bastille Day recital, and think about what menu to have. It also didn't hurt to have a facebook friend post beautiful streetscapes from her recent stay in Paris to keep the inspiration going.

So, I guess it's no surprise that I felt like a “French dinner” should be my Birthday dinner yesterday and thatI'd walk around the farm and see what other French inspirations I have incorporated.

I did make Alton Brown's recipe for Coq au Vin which takes many hours but is worth the results! You can find his recipe on the Food Network site.



And, I made this lovely Boulevardier Cocktail which is: 1.5 oz Rye Whiskey, 1 oz. Campari, 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth and



can be shaken over ice and served straight-up or over lots  of ice which is my choice.

Finally, I created a lower carb, Almond nut crust, French tart-inspired cheesecake for my “Birthday Cake”




French Tart Cheescake w/ Almond Nut Crust 

Using a prepped tart pan (8”):

Process 1 cup of sliced almonds to crumbles in a mini-food processor.

Mix with 1 Tbsp softened butter or butter-and-canola oil spread

Press into the bottom of the tart pan and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Make the filling, using a hand mixer, combine:

12 oz softened cream cheese

½ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 fresh egg

½ cup of pure cane sugar or Stevia-sugar blend

½ tsp each vanilla and almond extracts

Spoon mixture on top of the roasted nut crust, bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until set. Remove and chill until serving. Can add a squirt of whipped cream when you serve if desired. Makes 6-8 servings.


Then, I walked around outside and realized that trips to France inspired the wrought iron (actually wrought aluminum-no painting!) little garden fences and the streetlight that lights our barbeque area. But I know that real “French inspiration” is tucked into the subconscious mind and influences how I visualize many things. After all, the French have inspired our civilized society and our quests for truth, beuuty, and knowledge whether in art, music, literature, philosophy, medicine, sciences. And so I go back to practicing French Baroque flute pieces...




Posted by Karen at 15:19 CDT
Updated: Saturday, 28 June 2014 15:21 CDT
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Sunday, 13 April 2014
More Umami
Topic: Education and Values

More Umami

I've kept up the quest for umami this past week, fascinated that my palate is so geared for this “taste.” Umami is supposedly linked to the amino acid glutamate. At least that's a common protein that's identified by scientists in foods that are frequently cited as having this “taste” .

Common foods or seasonings containing this are meats and seafood, soy sauce (and thus many things containing soy sauce like Worcestershire sauce or blends and marinades), mushrooms, anchovies, ripe cheeses.

According to the UMAMI INFORMATION CENTER (visit their website www.umamiinfo.com for much more information!):

What exactly is umami? Taking its name from Japanese, umami is a pleasant savoury taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavors, most people don't recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays an important role making food taste delicious.

So, I've included a couple more recipes that I've made this week that are “heavily” representative of “Umami”:




Swiss Cheese,Mushroom, Onion and Bacon Quiche 

Saute together in 2 Tbsp olive oil: 1 chopped yellow onion, cook until translucent, add 8 oz. chopped portabello mushrooms and cook until tender.Add about 1 tsp. herbs de Provence mixture, salt and pepper.

Separately, fry or microwave 4-6 pieces of bacon until crisp, throughly drain in between paper towels, allow to cool and then crumble. (Note: the bacon can be optional in this quiche.)

Fill a deep dish, unbaked 9” pie crust with the following:

6 oz. chopped Swiss cheese

Add the mushroom-onion and herb mixture. Add the bacon pieces. 

Whisk 4 fresh eggs together in a Pyrex measuring cup, adding sufficient milk or cream to yield a total volume of 1 and1/2 cups of egg-milk mixture. Pour into the pie shell.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour until fully cooked and set.

Then there's this pre-season, umami-ladened magic on the indirect grill.





Marinated Pork Tenderloin (with UMAMI inspired marinade)

For the marinade: Combine ½ cup smoky tomato barbeque sauce (prepared or your own), add 2 Tbsp. Soy sauce and 4 large chopped garlic cloves. Coat all surfaces of of the pork tenderloin (large pork tenderloin may be cut in half to fit on the grill)- allow to marinade in the refrigerator for an hour or more)

Prep your Kettle grill for indirect cooking according to manufacturer's instructions (This entails pre-starting charcoal briquets, then piling them on opposite sides of the lower grate, your grill surface placed above the briquets. The food will be cooked with the lid on, placed in the middle of the cooking surface. Heat circulates around the meat.)

May you enjoy your Umami  adventures! 

Posted by Karen at 16:46 CDT
Updated: Monday, 14 April 2014 06:49 CDT
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Friday, 4 April 2014
Mushroom Bisque--
Topic: Education and Values

Umami /uːˈmɑːmi/, a savory taste,[1][2][3] is one of the five basic tastes (together with sweetsourbitter and salty).

loanword from the Japanese (うま味?), umami can be translated as "pleasant savory taste".[4] This particular writing was chosen by Professor Kikunae Ikeda from umai (うまい) "delicious" and mi (味) "taste". The kanji æ—¨å‘³ are used for a more general sense of a food as delicious.


The above is from Wikipedia and expresses exactly what my taste buds were after this afternoon! 

It's chilly, windy, soup-y kind of Lenten Friday--yes, I'm making fish for dinner, but what I really sought was a healthy MUSHROOM BISQUE

So, here it is:

Mushroom BISQUE

In a soup pot combine the following:

4 large cloves of garlic, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 small carrots, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

3-4 Tbsp olive oil

Cook together until the vegetables are soft, the onion, carmelized.

Add 1 lb. Portabello (or your choice) sliced mushrooms

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Toss together and cook through.

Add 3 cups of water, 1 Tbsp. dried parsley (or equivalent fresh)

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, cook 10 minutes.

Now, puree with the immersion blender.




Here are your final options to add after pureeing: 

Add 1 cup sour cream.

OR--add 1 additional cup of water

OR--add  3/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sherry wine

I added the sour cream. In any case, any  option will still give you a very rich, delicious appetizer soup. Serving size as shown is 6 oz.  














Posted by Karen at 17:00 CDT
Updated: Friday, 4 April 2014 17:30 CDT
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Friday, 28 March 2014
Frozen Banana "Ice Cream" ?
Topic: Education and Values

I was talking to my sister about our niece who has "way too many" food allergies, since birth.

It just doesn't seem fair. While we were discussing her limitations, which include dairy allergy, Chris went "googling" and found an interesting recipe.

This comes from "One Ingredient Chef" for an iced dessert made from one ingredient: the (frozen) banana. 

Of course we had to try it and add a couple of items to make it "ours" and you, of course, will need to try it once you've read this and will have to doctor it to make it your own as well. (Thank you, One Ingredient Chef for the original plan!) 


  1. Allow 1 fully ripened banana per serving size.
  2. Cut desired number of bananas into 1 inch pieces and freeze overnight until really hard.
  3. Process by pulsing,  frozen banana pieces in a food processor until it looks like this:



Add a a few drops of vanilla (we used about a tsp for 5 bananas).

4. Add (and "pulse" a few times) any desired small pieces of chocolate candy, a couple of maraschino cherries and other flavorings (or not, as desired!)

5. Roll each serving into a ball, with your palms or between two spoons or in a scooper--work quickly as they get gummy in warm palms.

6 .Store servings in a covered container in the freezer.

7. You can even roll the balls into chopped nuts or coconut flakes or --use your imagination!


Here's our final product! Wait'll you taste it--honestly, like ice cream except non-dairy--all fruit with a little personal addition. (I'm wondering if this would work with other fruits, like peaches--might try it this Summer).









Posted by Karen at 16:45 CDT
Updated: Friday, 28 March 2014 21:26 CDT
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Sunday, 9 March 2014
Staying with Vegetables (Lent you know)
Topic: Education and Values

You'll remember that I am very sensitive to nutrient-dense meal plans right now. My trip to Uganda remains in the foreground of my thinking, I am compiling the journal and will share when it's in a readable state. Right now, it's still an emotional state. I am still  shell-shocked and emotionally connected. 

What I've shared so far is the sad lack of diversity of crops, resulting in vitamin and mineral deficiencies...and resulting in actual deficiency syndromes in the people who are otherwise blessed by their two growing seasons!

Today, I'd like to remind all of us to ...1--remember the Ugandan people in your prayers during Lent and 2-- incorporate healthy options into our diet, especially be reminded of our vegetables during those meat-less days in Lent--


Our dinner last night--what a super Saturday night spread! Marvelous Black Bean burgers with spicy sauce, raw onions and a broccoli slaw, and carrot casserole.

 Here's the recipe for Carrot Casserole:

Carrot Casserole

Peel and chop 2 lbs. of carrots (Give those peelings to your chickens!)

Boil carrots until tender, drain.

Cook separately--1 small onion chopped, 2 cloves of garlic and 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped, in 2-3 Tbsp olive oil, until translucent.

Combine this with the carrots and 1 can of Cheddar cheese  condensed soup (alternatively, you can make 10 oz of cheese sauce),

Prep a baking dish with spray oil  and place carrot mixture in the pan.

In a skillet, melt 1/2 stick of butter and saute 1 cup of cornflake crumbs (or bread crumbs.)

Sprinkle crumbs on top of carrot mixture.

Add additional shredded cheese as desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 








Posted by Karen at 14:04 CST
Updated: Sunday, 9 March 2014 14:09 CST
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