Posted in Food, My Life, My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge, Post A Week Challenge

257/365 First Harvest

While my mom was waiting for us to build her raised garden beds, she went ahead and planted seedlings in a few large planters. And she waited. And waited. And, while we struggled to find the time to build her beds (which we did on Mother’s Day), her seedlings producted plants that produced…..FOOD!  Yep, she gathered the first zucchini and eggplant of the season and I couldn’t wait to cook it up.

I had seen several pinned recipes on Pinterest for zucchini chips but none of them were quite what I was looking for. So, I hit up Food Network and found the perfect recipe for Zucchini Parmesan Crisps (Weight Watchers point value = 3).

I started by slicing the zucchini (and eggplant) into 1/4″ rounds. I then drizzled the olive oil over the slices and stirred to coat all the pieces. I then mixed up Kraft Parmesan and bread crumbs with salt and pepper. I didn’t have fresh Parmesan on hand, like the recipe calls for, but I will for the next time. As wonderful as this dish was, I can see where the fresh grated cheese would make it even better.

I then dredged each piece of the cut up veggies in the dry mixture before placing them on the prepared cooking sheets. In the oven they went while I turned my attention to the other dishes.

Several weeks ago my mom and I spent most of a Saturday preparing bags of crock-pot freezer meals (another Pinterest discovery that I still plan to write about). Earlier this afternoon I had placed one of those meals, Hearty Black Bean Soup (Weight Watchers point value = 3), in the crock-pot in preparation for dinner later tonight.  This recipe called for fresh cilantro to be added to the pot about 5 minutes before serving. It just so happened that mom had fresh cilantro growing in one of her container gardens and she gathered up a handful for me. I chopped it up and added it to the crock-pot and started some rice in the rice cooker.

After about thirty minutes, the rice, soup and veggies were ready to eat. And so were we!

Dinner is served.

Posted in Food, My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge, Uncategorized

189/365 Southern Noms

 

I had a craving for black eyed peas with pepper sauce. Isn’t it strange how these cravings come out of nowhere. Anywho, the peas and corn may have come out of a can but the pepper sauce was homemade with peppers from our friend Jeff’s backyard garden last fall. Let’s just say my craving has been satisfied. Well, at least until I have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. And for anyone who’s out there helping me count my Weight Watchers points, the total value for this traditional southern meal was only 9 points. Did I say nom nom?!?

Posted in My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

181/365 Fruit on the Bottom

I bought a huge container of low-fat vanilla yogurt with the hopes of saving a little bit of money and allowing for some personal creativity. As I packed my lunch today I spooned out a 1 cup serving and cut up about a 1/2 cup of freshly thawed strawberries. When I got to work, I took about half of the mixture and cut up half of a banana (of course I had to eat the other half because no one likes brown bananas) and put the remaining half back in the fridge at work.

THIS WAS SO DELICIOUS AND FRESH AND SWEET!

Total Weight Watchers point value = 2 points!

And the best part – I get to eat the other half tomorrow. 🙂

For those who are interested in our little strawberry flash freeze experiment, the berries really held together very nicely. After 2 days of thawing in the fridge, they came out a little slimey but not at all mushy. I can handle slimy, especially if they are just going into another food, like yogurt or a smoothie.  The whole berries held their shape and the sweetness was just like the day I bought them.

I may have to make another trip to Plant City this week to get some more. So Yummy!

Posted in Childhood Memories, Random Writers

A Light Dinner

Random Writers Week 12 Topic: What is your most memorable meal?

I come from a long line of farmers, harvesters both of crops and of animals. In addition to the cows, pigs, chickens, corn, peanuts and fresh vegetables that were grown to sell to others and to markets, my family always had well stocked pantries and freezers with the gathering of these ‘fruits’ of their labors.

Growing up in the south afforded me many opportunities to eat foods that may seem a bit odd to most, especially you Yankees out there. If you know anything at all about southerners, you know they don’t waste anything when it comes time to take an animal to slaughter. Very few ‘pieces and parts’ went unused, so in addition to the regular supply of bacon, pork chops, ground beef, sausages and steaks, there were always other miscellaneous meats to be found. It wasn’t at all uncommon to open the freezer and find some eerily recognizable shaped parcels wrapped in white butcher’s paper and sealed with masking tape. Each package’s contents would be identified with stamped block letters in purple ink.  The largest of these packages usually a contained a head and the oblong skinny packages probably held feet or hooves of some kind.  With or without the stamped words, you just knew what these were.

I could handle the white packages all wrapped up in the freezer but I found it pretty unnerving when I would open a big, boiling pot on the stove to find the snout of a pig staring back at me. I wouldn’t have eaten it if my life depended on it, but I knew my grandpa was just a day away from a new batch of his beloved Hog’s Head Cheese, or Souse, as it was called in our house. To say that most of these southern delicacies grossed me out would be an understatement. I was a super picky eater as a child and I did tend to stick to the more traditional meats that you can find in any grocery store today.

However, there was one dish that I remember with the fondest of memories. It was prepared and served every New Year’s Day by my Granny Walker. It was my grandmother’s world famous Hog Hashlet. Okay, maybe it was only famous to our little immediate family of nine but that doesn’t matter. This meal and this day each year was very special and memorable to me.

I would look forward to this gathering and dinner (that’s what we called the meal at noon) all year long. Not only did my grandmother prepare this dish I loved so much, she would spend hours in the kitchen cooking up all kinds of nom noms for us to enjoy. For my father, she cooked a coconut pie using coconut flavoring because he didn’t like the coconut pieces. For the rest of the family, a coconut pie with the coconut pieces. This was in addition to other desserts like pecan pie and banana pudding. She would make rice to go with the hash and we could always count on some kind of greens being served. We had the customary black eyed peas and she was a tyrant about the fact that everyone had to have at least a spoon of them or else their year would completely go to shit. That may not have been the way she phrased it but we knew that’s what she meant so we devoured our peas, but only after saturating them with homemade pepper sauce.

So, let’s get back to the Hashlet. As a child, I can remember asking what was in this delicious soup and being told it was mostly made with ribs, liver and lights. The meats were boiled in water with seasonings and a few hot peppers. It was mostly just a broth, but when poured over pieces of thinly fried cornbread, it became one of the most heavenly things I have ever eaten. The meat was cut up into bite size pieces. The hog liver was a very course meat that seemed to be served in crumbles more than slices. The lights. Oh the lights. This was my favorite part. I could not wait to shove forkfuls of this spongy, soft, porous meat in my mouth. It wasn’t at all chewy and seemed to just melt when you started eating it.

I did some research before writing this blog post because I wasn’t sure if what we called Hog Hashlet was actually a real dish or just something my grandmother made up so she could use the last of the hog parts. Turns out, this is a very real dish dating back long before my grandmother. I found versions of granny’s recipe in collections from all over the world. As it turns out, one of the dishes I found was called Hasslet. I’m assuming my grandmother’s Hashlet was simply a bastardized renaming of a centuries old dish. I have to admit that little tidbit made me feel less like a pieces and parts eating country bumpkin and more like an international food connoisseur.

I’m not sure at what age I realized I didn’t know what lights were. By the time I found out the more scientific term I was already hooked.  There was no looking back or thinking about the grossness of the idea of eating what I found out was simply the lungs of a pig.

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to read my fellow Random Writers bloggers, Gil and Lindsey‘s posts on their ideas of success.

Posted in My life in pictures

080/365 Let’s Eat!

What are you grateful for?

Food!

Today’s menu:

Today I am thankful for:

  • Every dish came out great
  • My Mom’s mad chopping skillz, for her cleaning behind me as I cooked AND for the awesome crochet Turkey decoration.
  • Natalie making the Deviled Eggs (almost) all by herself, with Mom guiding and teaching her.
  • Gil reading the virtual newspaper out loud to me while I prepared our little Cuban feast.
  • Daniel for being so enthusiastic about the Oreo Pie.
  • Friends who understand.
  • Afternoon naps.
  • Michael’s Pre-Black Friday sale and the fact that I got new art supplies for super cheap. (Stay tuned…I’m going to try some Watercolor Pencil artsy stuff)
  • Gil and I in complete agreement on the absolute crapiness of the move Bridesmaids.

What about you? What are you grateful for today? Why don’t you upload a picture to Epic Thanks and spread your joy and love with others. Can’t we all use a little extra joy in our lives? I can almost guarantee a smile or two if you take a minute and scroll through the gratitude photo bombs.