Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Menu Planning with Fresh Produce by Margaret Ullrich

Got another e mail.
Recipes don't call for just one ingredient.
Nobody sits down to a plate of just one vegetable.
It would be helpful to see what's available during the same time.

I agree.
So, here's a second list, grouping the produce by when they are in season.

Some items - Kohlrabi, Mushrooms and Raspberries - are available all the time. 
Some are treats to be savored during the few months they are in season.               
It would be a shame to miss them when they are at their best.

Some veggies go so well together!
It's great that they are in season at the same time.
Spring favorites.
Summer salads.
Winter stews.
Traditional Holiday recipes.


available year round

4 - 9
7 - 9  
Green Beans        
Summer squash         

7 - - - - - 12
Bok Choi                                                                  
7  - - - - - - - - - - -  3 

4 - - - - - - - - - - 12
Cauliflower (actually to 1)                 

4 - 6  also  10 - 12 
Dandelion Greens
4 - 6

10 - 12 
Brussels Sprouts                                        

10 - - - - - 3
Sweet Potato                           
Winter Squash                 

10 - - - - - - - - - 6

1 - - - 3

1 - - - - - - - - - - 6

Monday, October 29, 2012

Preparing Dried Beans l Sausage and Beans Cassoulet by Margaret Ullrich

We've got snow.
And it's staying.
Forget the light salads.
Time to make a casserole.

Lately the stores have been having sales on sausages.
They freeze well, so stock up.
Get a nice variety.

While you're in the store pick up a few bags of dried beans.
Yes, I know they also come in cans, ready to cook.
But dried is cheaper.
And you can control the salt content.

Dried beans are so easy to prepare.
Worried about 'the gas' factor?
Draining the cooking water will help prevent that.

No, I don't know why.

                        Preparing Dried Beans 

In a large pot place
  6 Cups beans
18 Cups water
Bring to a boil.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat and let stand 1 hour.
Drain the cooking water.
Rinse beans and use in a recipe.

Okay... time to enjoy some home prepared beans.

If you don't have time - or want to use some canned beans you've bought -
1 19 ounce can of beans for 2 Cups of home prepared beans.
But first drain the can's liquid, rinse the beans and drain the water.

Equal parts of kidney, black and romano beans go well in this casserole.
But, if you only have 2 out of 3, or other beans, no problem.
Even using one type of beans would be fine.
The variety just gives extra flavor and color.

You can also use beef broth or water instead of the wine.

                        Sausage and Beans Cassoulet 

Serves 8
Preheat oven 375º

In a large ovenproof pot place
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 Cups prepared beans 
2 Cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Cups sliced carrots
1 Cup fresh mushrooms, halved
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
1 19 ounce can of tomatoes, chopped, with its juice
Combine the ingredients.
1/2 Cup red wine

Cover and bake 1 1/2 hours.
While baking, stir the mixture 3 or 4 times.

Serve with crusty bread.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Buying Fresh Produce in Season by Margaret Ullrich

Got an e mail asking, "When is the best time to buy fresh produce?"

One of the first rules for getting fresh vegetables at their best quality 
- and cheapest price - is to buy them in season.

Okay... like everything else, that's easier said than done.

What's in season locally depends on what you mean by locally.
The fresh produce season is longer in warmer climates.
Makes sense, right?

I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Just north of Fargo, North Dakota, United States.
Not exactly know for a long growing season.
These are the dates for fresh produce in my area.

If you live in this area (in gardening terms: Zone 3), this list is for you.
If you live further south, or on the east or west coast, you have a longer season.
Don't gloat.
Just add to the length of the season.

To save a bit of space I used numbers:
1 is January, 2 is February...

Check this post, if you want to make a stew, a soup, or a salad.
The veggies are grouped by time of year.
Handy, no?

Arugula             4 - 6                   10 - 12      
Asparagus         4 - 6                                                                                                            
Basil                                7 - 9                                                  
Beet                                7  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  3   
Bok Choi                         7 - - - - - - - - 12                                         
Broccoli                           7 - - - - - - - - 12 
Brussels Sprouts                          10 - 12 
Cabbage                          7  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3               
Carrot                             7  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3                 
Cauliflower        4 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1   
Celeriac                                        10 - - - - - - - - -  - 3 
Celery                            7 - 9
Chard               4 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -12  
Corn                              7 - 9
Cress                4 - 6                   10 - 12               
Collards             4 - 6                   10 - 12       
Cucumber                      7 - 9
Dandelion Grns  4 - 6                   10 - 12   
Eggplant                        7 - 9
Endive                           7 - 9                                                                     
Fennel                           7 - - - - - - - - 12                 
Garlic                            7  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3                     
Green Beans                  7 - 9
Horeseradish                                10 - - - - - - - - - - 3 
Kale                 4 - 6                    10 - - - - - - - -  -  3 
Kohlrabi            year round
Leek                                                             1 - - - 3                                                          
Lettuce            4 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  12   
Mushroom         year round      
Mustard            4 - 6                   10  - 12              
Okra                              7 - - - - - - - -  12         
Onion                             7  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  3            
Parsnip             4 - 6                                      1 - - - 3
Peas                 4 - 6                                                                                                                          
Pepper                           7 - - - - - - - - 12                   
Potato                           7  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3               
Pumpkin                                      10 - 12  
Purslane                                      10 - 12           
Radicchio                       7 - 9
Radish               4 - 6                                                                                                              
Rutabaga                                    10 - - - - - - - - - -  3        
Scallion             4 - - - - - - - - - - - - -  12              
Shallot                                        10 - - - - - - - - -  - 3             
Spinach             4 - 6                                                                                                                          
Sprouts             4 - 6
Sunchoke                                                      1 - - - 3
Summer squash            7 - 9
Sweet Potato                             10 - - - - - - - - - - - 3      
Tomato                        7 - 9
Turnip                4 - 6                 10 - - - - - - - - - -  3   
Winter Squash                            10 - - - - - - - - - -  3  
Zucchini                        7 - 9  
Apple                                           10 - - - - - - - - - - 3  
Currants                      7 - 9
Gooseberry                  7 - 9
Melon                          7 - 9
Plums                          7  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3
Raspberry         year round 
Rhubarb            4 - 6
Strawberry        4 - - - - - - 9 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Three Year Anniversary! by Margaret Ullrich

Happy Third Birthday to I'm Turning 60!!
And THANK YOU for visiting, whether you're a daily, weekly or occasional guest.
The past three years have been a time of change for me.
A lot of changes, but change can be good.

I used to send Ma recipes, especially at this time of year when there are 
brochures and leaflets in the baking section of the supermarket. 
One of the things I enjoy about the I'm Turning 60 blog is that I can continue 
to share recipes and enjoy Ma's recipes, too. 
It's funny to think that my Ma, who only used the computer to play solitaire, 
is now googleable as a cook.
I like to think she's getting a kick out of that, too!

In July 2010 blogger started recording the number of viewings posts have gotten.  
This past week I took a look at the numbers for them... yes, all 493 posts!
Numbers don't lie.  
I'll do my best to bring you more of what you want.

Blogger keeps track of which blog posts are popular.
Carmela Soprano's Baci Cake is still number one!
It's a really good chocolate cake.
But, a lot of work to make.
You've been warned.

The Baci cake is closely followed by one of my Ma's recipes.
Anna Sultana's Bebbux bl-Arjoli.
Bebbux bl-Arjoli means Snails with Arjoli Sauce.
Yes, snails.

Among the North American recipes, The 1960s Co-Op Refrigerator Cheesecake 
is an old favorite that is very, very popular.

And, while we're talking old favorites, with Christmas just around the corner
check out the recipe for the 1930s Dollar Fruitcake from the Winnipeg Free Press.
Yes, it's posted in my Winnipeg is Better Than Chocolate blog.
But it's still a great Christmas recipe and has received over 350 visits!!

This tells me that you still like recipes.
Okay... more recipes.

Blogger also keeps track of the top 10 visiting countries. 
The United States is still number one, followed by Canada with almost half of
America's readership. 
Folks in Malta, Russia, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Slovenia 
and Ukraine are also visiting.
I expected Maltese in the United States, Canada, Malta, Australia and the 
United Kingdom to visit and use Ma's recipes.
The other folks were a surprise.
But I'm really glad you've decided to visit.
Thanks again for visiting!
It's truly a small world!

I'd also like comments.  
It's easy to do.  Just click on Comments and write.  
Tell me what you want to know about. 
Let me know how I'm doing.
Or send me a message through Facebook. 

Thanks again for visiting!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Carmela Soprano's Eggplant Parmigiana

In Canada we recently celebrated Thanksgiving.
Here in Winnipeg we just had a few snow flurries.
Christmas is on its way.
It's time to get ready for winter and family dinners.

Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook has something from almost everybody.
Including his missus, Charmaine.
Along with a page on party tips and a menu, she gave a few recipes
in her chapter Cooking for the Whole Famiglia.
Frankly, I like her recipes better than the recipes in Artie's chapter.

And I hope you'll enjoy them, too.

Just so you know:
This recipe calls for 2 1/2 Cups of Marinara Sauce.
A few days before making Eggplant Parmigiana make a double recipe of the sauce 
and serve half with your favorite pasta.
Refrigerate the leftover sauce and have it ready for this recipe.
The gang will never know they are eating leftovers.

After you've constructed the layers in the 9 x 13 pan, you can cover the casserole and refrigerate it overnight.
Remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking.

                        Eggplant Parmigiana

Serves 6

Trim the ends from
2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound)
Cut them in 1/4 inch slices.
Place the slices in a colander or on a large cookie sheet.
Sprinkle them with 
Let drain for 30 minutes to remove bitterness.
Rinse the eggplants and pat dry.

In a large deep skillet pour
1/2 inch oil (olive or vegetable)
Heat over medium heat and fry the slices in a single layer, turning once.
Drain on paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 350º

Have on hand 
2 1/2 Cups of Marinara Sauce
8 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

In a 9 x 13 inch pan spread a thin layer of about 1/3 the Marinara sauce.

Make a layer of half of the eggplant slices. 
Top with a layer of 1/2 the mozzarella slices.
Add another layer of 1/3 of the sauce.
Sprinkle over that 1/2 of the grated cheese.

Repeat the layering of eggplant, mozzarella and sauce.
Sprinkle over that the remaining 1/2 of the grated cheese.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the mozzarella is melted.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Would I make Eggplant Parmigiana again?
It's great when you've invited vegetarian guests.
And non-vegetarians love it, too.

One recipe down.  Seventy-four more to go. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pop, Ma and Halifax by Margaret Ullrich, part 12, Weeding

We didn't just take Pop and Ma to Folklorama.
A dozen years ago we took them to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I really miss the pre 9/11 days.
No passports.
As Obama saw in the Byward Market, Canada and the U. S. are good neighbors.
The 9/11 terrorists were in the States, with all their papers in order.
All the new border security measures wouldn't have made any difference.
Oh, well...

Paul and I had decided to drive down to New York, pick up my folks, 
drive along the coast, see the Tall Ships while they were in the Maritimes, 
visit a few tourist sights, then drive home.
Simple, right?
With two dogs and my folks... are you kidding?

Our drive from Winnipeg to New York was pleasant.
Our drive from New York to Dartmouth was a little off.
A friend in Halifax had advised us to make reservations because of the Tall Ships.
So we were all set to stay in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
A cheaper motel, but we had to cross a toll bridge to go to Halifax.

We'd had a late start leaving my parents' house.
Ma had Paul pack a few gallons of bottled water for our trip.
Pop had gotten sick during their trip to Trevi.
The guide had told them to not drink the fountain's water.
Pop had to sample the water.
Not good.

When Paul saw how much space the water was taking he had a talk with Ma.
There weren't any Trevi-like fountains on the way or in the Maritimes.
My parents had drunk Canadian water before without any ill effects.
Paul unpacked the water.

Pop, Paul and I took turns driving.
I don't know why, but every time Pop took the wheel, it poured.
For our first night we stopped at a motel in Bangor, Maine.
If we'd had any idea of how the trip would be, we would've stayed.

From Bangor, Maine, to the Canadian border we took the quicker route. 
We ended up mostly driving through the logging area. 
I said, "It'll get better when we get on the main highway." 
Paul pointed out that we were on the main highway. 
It was like the scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
No, we didn't get stuck under a loggers' truck.  
Let's put it this way.  We've had better drives. 
So much for shortcuts.

In Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, we unpacked in our shared room at the motel.
There were two restaurants in walking distance.
An Italian and a Chinese.
Pop didn't like Chinese restaurants.
They didn't serve bread.
So, Paul went out to pick up pizza for dinner in our room.
We watched a bit of TV, then went to sleep.

The next morning we went for our free Continental breakfast.
We overheard the desk clerk say she couldn't understand why anybody 
would come to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
She told us Peggy's Cove has just a half hour daily without fog.
The travel brochures never mention fun facts like that.

Saying a couple of prayers - well, we did mention God - we drove to Peggy's Cove.
After all the rain we'd had and the clerk, we weren't expecting much.
Somebody took pity on us.
When we got to Peggy's Cove we had clear weather.

We didn't see any Tall Ships.
We did see lots of friendly Japanese tourists.
This surprised Ma, since she didn't think any tourists came to Canada.
Well, New Yorkers never think people go anywhere but New York for a vacation.

When the fog started to roll in, we went back to our van.
We drove around a bit, then headed back to the motel.
Ma couldn't face another pizza.
The Chinese restaurant was across the street from the motel. 
Ma said, "We are going to eat there." 
So, we went and ordered a dinner for four.
Paul ate about half of the food.

The next morning, heading to breakfast, we again overheard the same 
desk clerk griping about how awful Halifax was.
I really hope that girl managed to move away.
Or at least go into another line of work.

After breakfast we headed back to New York.
Once we crossed the border, Ma started pointing out places to stay.
Augusta... Portland... Bangor.
Pop wanted to get home.
Feeling guilty about the Chinese dinner, we kept driving.

By 7:00 pm we were in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
The CAA book said that there was one motel that would accept dogs. 
But the book had made a mistake.
The motel wouldn't accept dogs.
So, we kept driving.

About 9:00 pm we calculated that we'd be in New York by 2:00 am.
By then we were getting punchy from the driving.
Paul and I hi-fived, shouted, "We can do it!" and cackled.
I think the cackle unnerved Pop.
He agreed we should go to a motel.

In Massachusettes Paul found a motel.
From the car we watched as he pantomimed to the clerk about our two small dogs.
The guy agreed to let us stay in a smokers' room.

After Paul booked our room, we went to the McDonald's across the street for dinner. 
We hadn't eaten since noon, and we were famished.
Pop and Paul went for the food.
Ma and I walked the dogs.
For some reason Ma and I thought the key was locked in the car.
We went and pantomimed to Paul through the glass door.
We put on a dandy little show.
No, Paul had not forgotten the key.

Back to the motel...
Pop, Paul and I grabbed the suitcases and the two dog kennels.
Ma held the leashes with our two dogs.
We entered the elevator.
When we got to our floor, Pop, Paul and I walked out, but the dogs wouldn't budge. 
The doors closed, locking Ma and the dogs in the elevator. 
The three of us just stood in the hallway.
The elevator went back to the main floor.  
I collapsed on the floor, laughing hysterically. 
After their ride, Ma and the dogs returned to our floor. 
The dogs had had enough of the elevator and agreed to join us.
The smokers' room stunk and had hundreds of burn holes in the carpet.
We watched a bit of TV, then went to sleep.

The next day's drive went better.
Finally we got back to my parents' house.

My brother George heard about the Chinese restaurant.
Smirking, he asked, "So, how'd you like the food, Pop."
"Let's put it this way.  I ate."
George smiled.  "No bread on the table, right?"

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Carmela Soprano's Linguine with White Clam Sauce - Linguine alle Vongole

The turkey left overs are either all gone or in the freezer.
I mean, enough is enough already.
The budget is still hurting from the holiday dinner.
Time to serve up some more pasta.

Natalie Del Greco's chapter in Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook is interesting.
I had always thought Sicily was the source for Italian food in America.
Well, I had Sicilian relatives.
So maybe that affected my knowledge, as well as my dinners.

Natalie's Cooking the Neapolitan Way is an interesting read.
The chapter also has a bit of history:
Pizza started out as peasant food.
Basically a tomato, mozzarella and basil open-face sandwich.
With some garlic and anchovies.

In the 1880s Queen Margherita decided to try it.
a few years ago.
The pizzaiolo left out the garlic and anchovies.
Well, it was for a Queen.
Queen Margherita loved the newly created Pizza Margherita.
And so do a whole lot of folks.

We also have the Neapolitans to thank for take-out pizzas.
In Naples street vendors walk around with metal boxes on their heads.
They still sell hot pizza on the street this way.

Oh, in Naples, they call pasta maccerone (macaroni).
They liked it because it was easy to store and went with everything.
No kidding.

Linguine alle Vongole is a bit more work than the Linguine Aglio Olio recipe.
Oh, start the water for the pasta while you're preparing the clams.
You've been warned.

Just a reminder: Al dente means the pasta is tender yet firm to the bite.
The recipe calls for 1 small peperoncino, crumbled, instead of the crushed red pepper.
If you can get peperoncino, enjoy.

                        Linguine alle Vongole

Serves 6

With a stiff brush scrub under running water
3 pounds small hard-shell clams (littleneck or Manilla, for example)
Toss any clams that are broken or don't close tightly.

Place the clams in a large pot with
1/4 Cup water
Cover the pot.
Turn the heat to medium high.
Cook until the clams begin to open.
Place the opened clams in a bowl and continue to cook the others.
Toss any clams that don't open.
Set the pot aside.  Do NOT drain the liquid.

Over a small bowl to catch the juices, scrape the clams from the shells 
and place them in another bowl.
Add the liquid from the large pot to the juices in the small bowl.
Rinse the clams in the liquid in the small bowl and set aside.
Pour the liquid through a fine sieve or coffee filter into another bowl.

In a 12 inch skillet place
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
a pinch of crushed red pepper
Cook over medium heat until the garlic is golden.
Add about 2/3 of the clam juice.
Cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
Discard the garlic.
Stir in the remaining clam juice and the clams.
Cook 1 minute.

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
1 pound linguine
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta and place it in the skillet.
Toss the pasta until it is coated.
Cook over high heat 1 minute.
Serve immediately.

Would I make Linguine alle Vongole again?
I live on the prairies.
The clams were a hassle to find.
I ended up using P.E.I. mussels.
And there are easier ways to cook mussels.

One recipe down.  Seventy-five more to go. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Carmela Soprano's Linguine with Homemade Pesto Sauce - Linguine al Pesto

Okay... I hear you.
You still have some turkey left over.
The gang liked the Linguine Aglio Olio.
But, enough with the leftovers.
They'll put up with the turkey, again.
But they'd like a different starch.

No problem.

Here's another linguine recipe.
But, as with the Linguine Aglio Olio recipe, another pasta can be used.
If your supermarket is like mine, pasta is regularly on sale.
Pasta doesn't go bad, so it's a good idea to stock up when that happens.
Get out of your comfort zone and try some of the other shapes.
I mean, they all cost the same.

I always liked Adriana La Cerva.
Her heart was bigger than her brain, but, so what?
In Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook she wrote about cooking up a special dinner.
Especially a romantic dinner.
We are talking Adriana.
Not for Adriana a title like Rage, Guilt, Loneliness and Food.
Adriana serves up Cibo D'Amore.

Just a reminder: Al dente means the pasta is tender yet firm to the bite.
Of course there isn't much garlic in this.
As Adriana says Buon amante!

                        Linguine al Pesto 

Serves 4 as a first course, 2 as a main dish

Combine in a mortar with a pestle (or use a food processor)
1/2 Cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1 Tablespoon pine nuts or blanched almonds
1 garlic clove
a pinch of coarse salt
Pound until the mixture forms a thick paste.

Gradually add
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
Blend until smooth.
Place the mixture in a large bowl.
Stir in
1/3 Cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
8 ounces linguine
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Set aside 1/2 Cup of the cooking water.
Drain the pasta and place it in the large bowl with the pesto.
Toss the pasta until it is coated.
Add as much water as needed if the pesto is too thick.
Serve immediately.

Would I make Linguine al Pesto again?
It's another handy quick recipe.
And it can use up that jar of pesto that's been sitting in the fridge.

One recipe down.  Seventy-six more to go. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Carmela Soprano's Linguine with Garlic and Oil - Linguine Aglio Olio

Okay... time to get back to recipes.
There's probably some turkey left in the fridge.
But the potatoes and yams are all gone.
What to do for a starch...

No problem.

Dr. Jennifer Melfi not only can tell you what's wrong with you.
She can also feed you.
In Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook there's a chapter by Dr. M.
Rage, Guilt, Loneliness and Food.
There are a few pages about "Guilty Eaters", "Angry Eaters" and "Single Eaters".
Well, ignore the title and that stuff.
The recipes, like Linguine Aglio Olio, are okay.

Al dente means the pasta is tender yet firm to the bite.
Dr. M. used 1 small peperoncino, crumbled, instead of the crushed red pepper.
The butcher already thinks I'm hilarious when I ask for veal.
I didn't ask the produce guy for peperoncino.
I don't need any more of a reputation.

                        Linguine Aglio Olio 

Serves 4

In a large skillet pour
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin olive oil
2 to 3 Tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Cook, stirring over low heat for 3 minutes or less.
You want the garlic to be lightly golden.
Stir in
1/4 Cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Turn off the heat.

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
1 pound linguine
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Set aside 1 Cup of the cooking water.
Drain the pasta and add it to the garlic and oil in the skillet.
Cooking over medium heat, toss the pasta until it is coated.
Add as much water as needed if it seems too dry.
Serve immediately.

Would I make Linguine Aglio Olio again?
It's a handy recipe when you have to make something quick.
I mean, who doesn't have olive oil and garlic in the house?
Aglio Olio also works with spaghetti.
And other pasta.
Well, maybe not pastina.

One recipe down.  Seventy-seven more to go.