Sunday, September 29, 2013


Hey guys! Thank you for being awesome readers and for putting me over a 1000 views! That's pretty exciting!

On Saturday I had my first satsumas, which was pretty awesome. I drank Abita Satsuma beer and didn't think it tasted very satsuma-y, not actually having tasted a satsuma.

When I saw them in this basket, I thought - it's a lime! it's a lemon! (because they are green on the trees down here) no - it's round! What the heck? And one of my co-workers said "Did it suddenly become satsuma season?" and yes, yes it has. They were squishy and ripe so I peeled one. (And then another... and another...)

Mind blown, right? They're orange on the inside and do turn orange once they're picked. These are just early satsumas so they're still green. But they were juicy and quite tasty. I am always happy when I can have local citrus. 

Here's to the satsuma! 

The satsuma, Citrus unshiu (definitely going to call it that from now on!), is a seedless citrus fruit from Japan. There are four cities in the union named after the satsuma, one in Florida, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana - all hot places where they flourish. Only the kumquat can withstand cooler temperatures than the satsuma, whose trees can last in 15 degree Fahrenheit weather for a few hours. (15 degrees in New Orleans? haha hahahahh HA HAHAHAHHAAA that's a good one.) (Thanks Wikipedia!) 

Keep calm and peel on. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Of Plenty and Pie

Mmmm... gives me a belly ache just looking at it! 

I seem to write often about getting a bunch of one item and storing it up for the winter (or the off-season, Louisiana doesn't have a "winter"). First strawberries, then peaches, and now apples. I love my farmer's market apple seller, who always greets me with a smile and knows who I am. I think her name is Ashley. Every week she greets me and asks me how I'm doing. Recently I got my head buzzed so this week she complimented me on it. I told her the real reason I stop by is for her compliments, which always make my day. Last week they had a blush apple that I liked but had to make applesauce out of when they got too mushy. This week they had delicious crisp Granny smith apples, a favorite of mine. Pie had been calling my name, so I bought a large bag of juicing apples, the ones that have bruises and the smaller ones. Out of the whole bag of maybe 40 apples, only a dozen had bruises so the deal was really sweet. 

After crashing at a friend's in the Bywater, I bought two pie crusts on the way home. No, I didn't make my own crust. I will someday but right now I don't have a rolling pin or any wine bottles or anything in my kitchen. It took me probably three hours to peel and slice all the apples (I also don't have an apple corer, which by the way is probably one of those kitchen utensils you really don't need unless you cook with apples all the freaking time). They were tart with a smooth sweetness. I realized early on that all the apples I'd prepared would never fit in one pie crust, so I decided to also make an apple crisp. 

I cut one of the two pie crusts into strips and made a lattice crust. Instead of pouring the sugar glaze over the crust, I just poured it over the apples. The pie baked at 425 for 15 minutes and 45 at 350. Although the taste is wonderful, the apples are mushy. Next time I'll only bake it at 350 for 30 minutes to see if that makes the apples a little more crisp. 

It's wonderful to have pie, especially on a day without humidity... 

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Freezer's Worth of End of Season Peaches

A week ago, I bought a box - at least 20 pounds - of end of season peaches. Some of them weren't ripe yet but they've been ripening quickly ever since. It was the last week that the orchard staff would be coming to the farmer's market so I knew I wanted to buy as much of their stock as I could. Luckily I live within walking distance of the market so I bought the box and carried it home, leaving my bike under their watchful eyes. One of my neighbors stopped on her bike to ask if I wanted help, so I met another neighbor. I love that about New Orleans - folks really are willing to help you out.

I sat myself down in front of the box and started to cut up the ones that were mostly ripe. I separated out the really ripe ones that were starting to bruise to use right away. The rest went into baggies in my freezer. My roommate has also started to drink green smoothies with bananas, mangoes and various greens so our fridge and freezer are bursting with fruits and veggies. I have one more bag of strawberries which I'll use in my smoothies after I run out of fresh peaches and then it'll be frozen peaches probably until November, or December if I'm lucky. I am quite obsessed with fresh, local-grown fruits and veggies. The South is spoiling me.

I did a little more 3-T cooking last week when I had three butternut squash and a bunch of peaches. I decided to roast the squash with olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper and on a whim added two peaches.

You almost can't even see the peaches! Surprisingly, the dish was wonderful.

I brought it to a potluck on Tuesday where it was gobbled up. Everyone loved it. The peaches add a nice sweetness in contrast to the garlic. 

I'm sitting here snuffling, thankful for the hot soup that's making my nose run, but also grimacing as I drink apple cider vinegar and honey with weak Throat Coat tea. Whenever I have a cold it starts in my throat then moves to my chest where it settles and makes me tired and hungry. It's like I'm never satisfied. So to distract me - 

what are you cooking? 

Could Be Doing Much Better

Once again, I am not doing well with my challenge. It's too easy to eat other people's leftovers. I can say with pride that I did not eat any cookies this week at the office. However, I did eat quiche with crust, one or two puffed wheat bars when I forgot my fruit snacks at home, and the last of my frozen bread. (Oh, and beer - gluten intolerant folks are advised not to drink it. I just started to like beer a few years ago and don't want to have to give it up.)

I've been feeling okay except for the cold I got walloped with early Thursday morning.

I'm so glad that quinoa isn't a grain because I can live without rice if I can have quinoa. And I do really love fruits and vegetables.

Thank goodness for the simple things...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Challenges Aren't Ever Easy, Right?

Of course not. So, naturally, we had pizza at the office today.

We planned to do a data entry party to enter all the volunteer waivers into our database as a team. We've been putting this off for months, so the stack of waivers was getting ridiculous. I brought a lunch and everything - quinoa with tomatoes, olive oil and basil, and red beans over mustard greens.

And then we ordered pizza... and I ate two slices, very slowly, and decided I didn't want to eat pizza anymore. They were just so greasy and I didn't even enjoy eating them. I saved my lunch for tomorrow.

At a community meeting tonight I did not have any oatmeal raisin cookies when they were offered to me, nor did I have any cookies at the office.

So I've made progress already and I'm proud of myself! Yay!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A New 30-Day Challenge

Today I have made a decision that I will try really hard to stick with.

I want to reduce my carbohydrate and gluten intake.

On Thursday night I went to a potluck at my church and sat next to a friend of mine who is gluten-intolerant. I'm not sure if she has Celiac's, exactly, but she brought gluten-free cookies so that she could eat something yummy for dessert. Her peanut butter cocoa oatmeal cookies, by the way, were my favorite thing at the potluck. I asked her why she went gluten free and she said that she had originally given up carbs to lose weight. Then, after reaching her goal weight, she started reintroducing carbs into her diet. Instead of enjoying what she was eating, she felt terrible. The symptom that stuck in my brain was joint pain - she said her joints were killing her, something that had never happened to her before. So she did some research, decided to cut out gluten and felt better. That got me thinking.

Some time ago, I started to draw patterns between white bread and headaches. I typically eat whole wheat bread, but if I eat a lot of white bread - like hamburger buns, pizza dough, white toast, etc - I would get headaches more frequently. I thought it may have something to do with the refined wheat and high sugar content. So I started to be more mindful and have far fewer headaches.

Since moving to New Orleans, I really don't eat bread often. I don't buy loaves of bread and actually enjoy making my own. But, when I'm out and about, I eat po'boys on white bread, sandwiches on white foccacia or buns, and other white bread products. When I'm at the office or church, my main weakness is cookies. I love cookies.

And yet when I eat them, especially in the middle of the day, I feel sluggish and my head gets cloudy. So sometimes I pop one of my migraine pills, which does make my head feel better. But what would happen if I just didn't eat the cookies in the first place? Would I still feel that way? And if I did, what would my body really be needing?

All these questions are making my head buzz, so what I need to do is simple. Make a conscious effort to stop eating bread, cookies, and pasta. It's going to be very hard but I've heard that it takes between 21 and 30 days to create a habit. I just have to remember how I feel now (achey, tired, terrible) and hope that I'll feel better without wheat.

Besides, these are the things I really can't live without:

- tea
- homemade yogurt
- chocolate
- fresh fruit
- tomatoes
- fresh vegetables

I can live without cookies.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

3-T Cooking

My typical way of cooking is saying to myself, "I have X, Y, and Z that I need/want to use up... how might they go together?" I have re-christened this method 3-T cooking, or "Throwing Things Together." 

When the bunkhouse emptied and there was leftover food, I took a few odds and ends home with me. One of the things was a big bag of Raisin Bran. After getting tired of snacking on dry Raisin Bran, I picked out all the raisins and made my gramma's raisin salad. I crunched up the bran into small bits and attempted to eat it as oatmeal, which just soggified and was difficult to choke down. I also added it to a couple smoothies, which worked to a point; they were a little chewy. Then the other night I had the brilliant idea of making a baked macaroni and cheese using the bran flakes as a crust. The result: delicious 3-T baked macaroni and cheese! 

Baked Embellished Annie's Macaroni and Cheese

bran flakes
curry powder
2 boxes Annie's or similar macaroni and cheese
hunk of cheddar cheese

Sprinkle curry powder and paprika into the bran flakes to taste. Cook the macaroni and cheese according to the box directions. Add butter and milk for extra creaminess. Grate the cheddar cheese and stir into the macaroni and cheese packets. Once melted, spoon the mixture into a baking dish. Bake until the crust starts to crisp and brown.

Notes: You may grease the baking dish, but it isn't really necessary. We used a gas oven that you have to light yourself, so I have no idea how hot the oven was. I'm guessing it was around 350.

The macaroni and cheese tastes very good with ketchup but is also amazing on its own. My initial idea was to add pureed butternut squash - I'm going to try it next time. My imagination tells me that adding butternut squash will make the macaroni and cheese sweeter and give it a little more substance. Unfortunately macaroni and cheese is one of those carb-laden dishes that doesn't stay in your stomach very long; with a vegetable hidden inside, I think my tummy will have to work a little harder.

What do you like to cook when you 3-T?