Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankful for the Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving in the Clark house means massive amounts of food. Usually several appetizers, a huge turkey, mounds of side dishes and lots of sweets for dessert. We went lighter on the food this year since two of the six siblings and their children were missing. It still amounted to 18 people, though.

Here's the foodies sisters in the kitchen.

And Becky, doing her best Vanna White, showing off the turkey she made and some of the side dishes.

And a plate full of all the goodies.

Some of my favorites are the stuffing, which includes celery leaves, which I love. There's also egg noodles that are boiled in chicken stock and covered in gravy. And cornbread that is moistened by creamed corn and sour cream. Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family and good food.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ribs in the crock pot - so delish!

I can't get enough of my crock pot these days. I amazed at how you can throw just about any meat in it, add some kind of sauce or juice and then a few hours later you have a tasty meal. Ribs are one meat that are excellent when you prepare them in the crock pot. They are so tender, they simply fall off the bone. Sometimes I just pour in some barbecue sauce and a little water on the bottom and call it a day. Other times, I just experiment. Here's a recent experiment - 1 slab of ribs (rub in some garlic salt and seasoning salt -- like Market Day's "A Salt for All Seasonings", pepper, celery salt, and chili powder) and mix 1 1/2 cups Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce, a tsp Worcestershire sauce, a tsp steak sauce, a couple tbsp brown sugar. Poured it on top, added a little water to the bottom of the crock and four hours later, this was the result. Finger lickin' good! :)

A tip for some yummy muffins

Each summer my family makes a trip out to Michigan City, Indiana to pick blueberries. We've been going to State Line Blueberries for years. This year we got a little lost on the way and ended up at Blueberries of Indiana, which happened to be right down the road. We enjoyed out visit even though it was a hot day. The heat prevented us from picking a large abundance for freezing, but we walked away with about 11 pounds. I was fascinated by the owner who was happy to engage in conversation about berries. He's an agriculture professor at a college in North Carolina, I believe.

Anyway, what doesn't get used right away or passed on to neighbors and family members gets rinsed and put into ziplock freezer bags. Then later on they make great additions to muffins. You don't even have to thaw them. I put them right into the mix and then into the oven and they plump and some even pop, exploding with a tasty juice. Try it!!

Salads can be a wonderful specimen of all the food groups

I love salads. I love to pile on all kinds of veggies - and the greener the better - and even with minimal dressing I can enjoy it quite a bit. But sometimes, it's what you add to it that makes it spectacular...and pretty to look at.

Lettuce is the foundation of most salads. I usually use iceberg as a last resort or mix it in with some green or red leaf or romaine and I absolutely love baby spinach in my salads. Then the fun comes with adding other veggies. In the photo below, I grabbed what was in the fridge - some broccoli and tomato. Since this was my main course for lunch, I threw in a boiled egg, some shredded cheddar, some croutons, some sliced ham and some ranch dressing to round out the food pyramid. The possibilities are endless. You can add any vegetable out there. You can add fruits. Then there are the mayo-based or oil based. The hot ones. The cold ones. So many possibilities, so little time. :)

Celebrating Oktoberfest with the first graders

So last month I decided to go visit my son's first grade classroom for a German-themed lesson that included food. :) I love doing such things - a St. Patty's Day celebration with corned beef, cabbage, Irish soda bread and green river floats, a Chinese New Year celebration with egg rolls, fried rice, almond cookies and fortune cookies, Cinco de Mayo with enchiladas, tamales, rice, candy and rice milk. Any excuse I have to turn room mom duties into a cultural food fest and I'm there!

So, for Oktoberfest I went in to visit the kids and brought my father-in-law, a native of Berlin, along to teach the kids a little about German culture and how to say a few words and phrases in the German language. We told them that Oktoberfest originated as a harvest festival centuries ago. We left out the part about how it has evolved into a giant beer fest.

Anyway, Aldi is a great place to find food products from Germany and Austria. German candy can be found year round and in October, you'll often find schnitzel, spaetzle, marzipan, strudels and other German specialties. My son loves the pork schnitzel, so we stock up when we see it in October. We just had some the other night with some spaetzle, red cabbage, potato pancakes and white asparagus.

Last year when I went in for Oktoberfest, I brought bratwurst, sauerkraut, chocolate, marzipan, stollen and a snack food called peanut puffs. This year, I decided not to do the bratwurst, since it gets expensive and is a lot of work heating and slicing into bite size pieces they can eat with a toothpick. Besides, my visit was at 9 a.m. and bratwurst just didn't seem fitting for that early in the day. I also omitted the sauerkraut since only two or three kids were brave enough to try it last year. This time I brought red cabbage, but again, six-year-olds weren't very interested. I also brought some chocolate, dark pumpernickel bread and peanut puffs (which they weren't able to eat because of a couple kids in the class with peanut allergies.) I wasn't able to find any stollen or marzipan at the store this time. The chocolate, of course, was the clear favorite. :)