Sunday, January 23, 2011

It is late, I cannot sleep . . . so I am up dreaming. Of green grass, warm earth and gardens to be.

The wood stove is crackling, the house is quiet and I am surrounded by stacks of gardening magazines . . the new Burpee and new Gurney's catalogs . . . dreaming.

"What shall I plant this year?" It always holds so much possibilities (I never have enough garden room LOL).

Last year, I planted corn . . won't do that again. While it was satisfying to watch it visibly grow in the Oklahoma heat . . the valuable real estate it occupies and the fighting the ear worms is not worth it. I think this year, I will concentrate on items I can put up for the winter. We have really enjoyed the quarts of tomatoes, pickles and jams earlier in the year.

This year, I think I will put into practice "Square Foot Gardening" pioneered by garden guru, Mel Bartholomew . . which is getting the most out of what space I have.

I remember reading about SFG in the 80's in The Mother Earth News (for which I just purchased a subscription . . . another danger of not sleeping . . . internet shopping!!)

So far, on my list for spring is LOADS of herbs, green beans, peas, more cucumbers (the pickles were the BOMB), a smaller, climbing variety of cantalope and loads of green onions and salad greens . . . Ooooo and potatoes . . . and GIANT heirloom tomatoes . . . .

I think I need a bigger garden!

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's bound to happy . . . .

Only I would get a fortune cookie with a typo.

I got this several years ago and found it yesterday when I was cleaning out a bunch of boxes in the garage (explains the time worn appearance of it!) . . I've kept it because it always brings a smile to my face and makes me happy LOL.

When you really think about it though . . it works. Just exchange the word "happen" with "happy" and see the fun you can have.

I forgive them their mistake . . after all, with all the millions of fortune cookies they make in a day . . it's bound to happy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mmmmm Smokey Paprika Chicken & Cinnamon Beans (this is for YOU Kitty!)

The wind is howling outside and snow is coming our way . . . I thought it was a great time to play in the kitchen!!

This is for Kitty, who's hubby has been recently diagnosed with high cholesterol
and swears he will now starve to death!! Also, she says he is on a bean kick these days LOL

Cinnamon Beans!
This is an old favorite in Jim's family. The original contains a lot of bacon, so I reworked it without the fat & bacon and was very surprised at how good the flavor still was. For those
of you who are still allowed to eat bacon . . throw some in (directions at the end) . . the flavor combination is amazing.

I have also paired it Smoked Paprika Chicken . . . (I'm on a self discovery of
what's new in the spice isle these days) . . . Smoked Spanish Paprika is world's apart from the regular Paprika or Hungarian Paprika that you have always used. . . . unbelievable aroma and taste!!!

So here goes (Kitty . . PAY ATTENTION!!)

First . . the Cinnamon Beans

You need: Get our your crock pot and a non-stick frying pan first
3 cans of pinto beans (any brand, I use WalMart generic)
2 cups of low sodium chicken broth 1 medium onion, chopped into small pieces
3 T. Olive Oil (more or less . . I tend to cook by the seat of my pants and not measure anything)
2 T. Roasted Saigon Cinnamon (available at WalMart) this has much more depth than regular cinnamon

Open the
beans, drain and rinse them in a colander and toss into your crockpot (on High until crock warms, the turn down to Low)

Over Med High heat, put your olive oil into the fry pan and when it gets a shimmery look, throw in your chopped onions, turn heat down to Med and keep stirring them around until they are transparent (about 5 min)

Toss in the 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon onto top of the onions and stir around un
til onions are well coated and the smell begins to "bloom" . . about 30 seconds (heating your spices brings out the very best flavors).

Slowly stir 2 cups of Chicken Broth (for my vegan & veg friends . . use a dark beer . . it adds a won
derful taste to the beans)

Add about 1 tsp of pepper and salt (or you can salt later at the table if you are on a limited salt diet)

Bring this mix to a soft boil, stirring constantly and then pour on top of the beans in the crock pot . . give them a stir and let them mingle for a couple of hours . . . Mmmmm

For those that can have bacon . . chop up a half of dozen strips of a good smokey bacon and fry until not quite crisp . . stir into the beans right after the onion mix & cinnamon mix . . . Yummmy!!

Serve over fried potatoes or corn bread . . or side by side with the chicken recipe below.

Smoked Paprika Chicken
2 Boneless chicken boobies, diced into quarter sized chunks
3 T. Olive oil Chicken Broth
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp. Smoked Spanish Paprika (don't be a cheap ass and use regular paprika . . just won't WORK!!)
Salt & Pepper

Ok, same routine as the beans
Heat the olive oil up in a pan, stir the onions until transparent (about 5 min)

Toss in the Smoked Paprika and stir until onions are well coated, about 30 seconds . . SMELL THAT?? Amazing isn't it?

Pour about a cup of chicken broth in the pan and make sure all the little bits of spices are well stirred into the mix.

Toss in the chicken chunks and stir to coat Continue cooking, stir chicken once in a while, until all the chicken is white and no longer transparent. About 3-4 minutes on med high.

Remove the chicken chunks from the mix (don't be slow . . things are cooking fast now) and whisk in a bit more broth to make a thin gravy.

Continue simmering until the sauce reduces and makes a thick sauce . . throw the chicken chunks back in and continue cooking for another min or so . . . until chicken is well coated and there hardly any liquid in the pan (don't overcook or your chicken will get tough)

Salt & pepper to taste

Easy as that!

You can pair the chicken side by side with the beans or mix together for a very tasty, unique Chicken Chili

p.s. . . Kitty, don't tell Robert that there is cinnamon in the beans until AFTER he eats it
!!! (we both know how he is . . ROFL)