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Fresh From the Farm

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By Gini Raineycookbook_junkie[1]

It would seem that I’ve taken a mini-hiatus from my blog.  I could say that I’ve been doing research, or have been too busy or uninspired – and it would all be true!  However, last week a friend told me that Hastings was having an incredible going-out-of-business sale, so not wanting to miss out on 70% off on one of my favorite things – books – I stopped in after work and came away with 6 books valued at retail $130.00 and only paid $18.00.  Heck of a deal!

Of course, the majority of the books I purchased were cookbooks, and one of them, “Blue Eggs & Yellow Tomatoes: A Backyard Garden-to-Table Cookbook” really should be a companion book to one I wrote about back in July, “Blue Corn and Square Tomatoes.”  Just sayin’!  Where that one was packed full of wonderful information and historical trivia about vegetables, this one has, jam-packed on its 320 pages, some of the most delicious sounding recipes and full color photos that you get hungry just looking through it.  Written by Jeanne Kelley and published by Running Press in 2013, this cookbook is as beautiful as it is informative.

Speaking of yellow tomatoes, when I was growing up in Minnesota, summers and autumnsImage result for old trail market moorhead mn were always filled with wonderful fresh vegetables and flowers from my family’s farm that was just north of Moorhead.  I loved stopping by the Market with my mom and dad, especially if my Uncle Ray was there.  He knew my weakness for those yummy little yellow pear tomatoes and always would slip me a small basket of them to munch on while I ran through the pumpkin patch trying to decide which one I would come back and pick later for my Jack O’Lantern.  I loved visiting the farm, which is now the Probstfield Living History Farm, where they just celebrated the 3rd Annual Sunday Supper event that benefits the restoration of my great-grand father’s log home located on the banks of the Red River.

So naturally one of the recipes in this cookbook that jumped out at me was for “Orecchiette Image result for blue eggs & yellow tomatoeswith Tomatoes and Garden Herbs.”  Orecchiette pasta is ear-shaped pasta and by design makes for a great way to hold your dressing or sauce to savor maximum flavor.  With this recipe, you will need to cook 8 ounces of orecchiette pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender, but still firm to bite – about 10 minutes.  Then drain.  Meanwhile, combine 1 pound of yellow, red, and/or orange cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half (about 3 ½ cups), 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar, and 2 pressed garlic cloves.  Add the pasta and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir in 2/3 cup chopped fresh herbs (such as basil, oregano, and chives), and ½ cup coarsely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.  You can serve this either warm,  at room temperature or chilled and with a crusty French bread and fresh butter, you can’t beat this for a “fresh from the farm” meal or side.

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Day Two of Our Stay At Home Order

stretford tyler tx

By Gini Rainey

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I’m so glad I have nearly five hundred cookbooks in my arsenal, although most of them won’t do me any good a time like this, which is why I’m so glad that I picked up this little cookbook about a month ago. Yes, Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars might just make a difference in my life (or not) when our food supplies begin to run out.  Fortunately, our household has plenty of toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant, and food (if you think I’m going to tell you my address – think again), but should we run short, it’s good to know that, not only do I have about a week’s supply of ramen to fall back on, but also a cookbook with some fairly awful recipes and in-mates stories to fall back on. 

Written by Clifton Collins Jr. (Capote, Star Trek, and West World, among others) and Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez (inmate extraordinaire) and printed in 2015 by Workman Publishing, this off-beat cookbook attempts to elevate the lowly ramen noodle to a higher level.  I never knew there were so many ways to “cook” ramen, although a lot of times, the recipes mostly call for just soaking in tepid tap water, depending on the availability of water temperature in the chef’s cell. 

Not the least bit tongue-in-cheek, the recipes, along with accompanying stories that have been included, are contributed by various inmates (past and present) of jails/prisons in the California penal system and show a lot of creative imagination on the part of the inmates.  Using whatever commissary items available, they have been able to create everything from a PB&J and a ramen tamale to Hit Man Burritos and Trejo’s Machete Ramen.  You remember Danny Trejo, don’t you? Before he became known for playing the anti-hero in dozens of movies and TV series, he was a drug counselor. Seems he also served a little bit of time. 

Trejo isn’t the only “celebrity” who contributed. Tarryn Manning (Orange is the New Black), Shia Labeouf (Man Down), David Anthony Fausino (Married…with Children), Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption), and Slash (Guns and Roses) also shared their recipes and stories in this book. 

I can hear all of you now, shouting at your screen “But, what about a recipe?” Let me tell you, right now, we should all be thankful that we aren’t really incarcerated and hopefully these mandated, life-saving orders aren’t life sentences, because I’m pretty sure we really won’t need to fall back on any desperate measures for food. However, if you insist, one of the least stomach challenging recipes is for “Butt-Naked Ramen Soup,” which is pretty much your basic ramen.  If you should choose to be a bit more adventuresome, you could always up your game and make “Frankie’s Soup in the Hole,” which adds one chopped Slim Jim to “Butt-Naked Ramen Soup.” 

So, let me leave you this thought: we’re all in this together and we will survive.  Be thankful for your family, be thankful for the health care professionals and be thankful you live in America. Stay healthy and happy and appreciate the smaller things in life, like sun shining, birds singing and life living. 

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Give the Girl a Sammich!


By Gini Rainey

Right now, considering all that is going on in our world, the KISS method would seem to be the best way to go with everything.  You know, Keep It Simple Silly!  I bought some new and weird cookbooks recently on ebay and I thought this might be a good time to share one of them with any of you out there that might still check periodically to see if I’m still around. Which, by the way, is probably an excellent thing for all of us to be doing right now. Give a call to some of the folks (or all of the folks) in your life who are important to you today. Our lives have all change dramatically in the past few weeks and it’s never too late to let people you love know you care. 

I was chatting with my sister a little bit ago and I reminded her of the time that I had the Asian Flu.  I checked with Google earlier to determine when that pandemic made its way around and discovered it was in 1957 – when I was nine years old. I was sick with it around Halloween time and what’s the worst possible thing that can happen to a kid when they’re nine and sick around Halloween?  Right! They can’t go Trick or Treating! My sister, who is eight years older than I and was in high school, offered to take a grocery sack around the neighborhood to collect candy for her poor little sister who was stuck at home, bedded down on the couch, with a raging fever. 

My dad, whose creativity knew no bounds, drug a six-foot ladder up out of the basement and dressed it in his overcoat.  He put our jack o lantern on the very top of the ladder, ran a string through the sleeve of the coat, and over to me on the couch.  When the doorbell rang, some poor unsuspecting, candy-hungry kid was greeted by the door slowly being opened by a ghoulish giant of a pumpkin-headed man swinging his arm maniacally at them. 

I’m sure mom made sandwiches that evening, just to keep things simple. (nice segue, huh!?!) It’s too bad she didn’t have had a copy of Scanwiches in her cookbook arsenal. This book, written by Jon Chonda and published by PowerHouse Books in 2011, is definitely one of a kind. It features amazing cross-section scans of sandwiches, along with the ingredients, place of origin, and bits of trivia. The range of sandwiches go from the super simple and humble grilled cheese sandwich all the way to a seven-layer Dagwood. From the strictly home-grown Elvis favorite of peanut butter and banana to the French Pan Bagnat and the Chinese Rou Jia Mo.  We’ve all eaten sandwiches, but the beautifully high definition scanned cross section photos of the sandwiches included in this book puts a whole new spin on the humble sandwich. Speaking of dinner, just looking through this book will give you a king-sized hunger for something yummy to eat! 

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