Guest Blogger: Comfort

Guest post by my daughter, Stefanie White, who soon will be starting her own blog on being a vegetarian in a relationship with a omnivore.

It may sound odd, but some of my fondest memories of childhood are from times I was sick.  Not the sick part, but what went along with being sick.  My mother is the ultimate caregiver – she is one of the most comforting people I have ever known.  Growing up, my mother’s cure-all for any physical or mental ailment was potato soup and hot toddies.  Of course, we had to wait until an appropriate age for the addition of bourbon to the toddies.  No matter how awful I felt, her potato soup could always work wonders.  In my mind, there isn’t anything the oozy, gooey cheesy wonderful-ness cannot solve.  As an adult who lives several states away from home, I feel deprived of my mother’s natural remedies whenever I get sick or down.

On October 16, 2013 life threw my family a real pickle (I can think of several other ways to describe this but I’m trying to keep this PG).  My mother and I started the day off laughing and enjoying our time together.  My boyfriend and I were in Kentucky for the week visiting friends and family.  Weeks in advance, we scheduled an appointment for one of our favorite mother-daughter activities: a manicure and pedicure.  After our day at the spa, we received a devastating phone call.  My stepfather had passed away while visiting South Carolina.  Nothing prepares you for having to tell a loved one that their spouse has just passed away.

During the days that followed, I tried my best to find ways to comfort and support my mother.  After the visitation and funeral passed, I struggled to find ways to comfort her.  I asked myself what would she do if I were hurting inside.  One idea finally occurred to me.  Fix a big pot of potato soup.

This may sound like an easy task, but I faced several challenges.  Although I’ve been vegetarian for several years, for the past year and half I’ve been enjoying a vegan diet.  My aunt was also staying with us.  My Aunt Diane grew up on veggies, but for the past 40+ years has mainly been fixing a traditional Southern diet for my uncle.  The third challenge was that my mother had stopped eating potato soup years ago because it gave her indigestion.  Despite these challenges, I still felt I needed to make an attempt.

potato soup

I’m not the best at creating precise recipes but here is a general recipe I came up with.  The next time I fix the soup, I’ll update this blog.

Vegan Potato Soup

Step 1: Put on a really cute apron.  No matter how crappy of a day it is, a cute apron always puts a smile on my face.

Step 2: Saute until soft 2 cleaned and sliced leeks in 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper.

Step 3: Wash and thinly slice 3 Yukon gold potatoes 3 Red potatoes.

Step 4.  Add enough veggie broth to barely cover the potatoes.  My favorite broth is Imagine No-Chicken Broth.  Next add: 1 teaspoon dried parsley; 2 tablespoons of dried mushrooms (I dampened then diced several dried morel mushrooms); 1/2 cup nutritional yeast; and salt and pepper to taste.

Step 5.  Boil until the potatoes are soft.  Do not cover the soup, because you want some of the liquid to evaporate.

Step 6.  Add 1 cup of Coconut Non-Dairy Creamer (don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like coconut)  Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Step 7.  Open a bottle of wine and let the yummy vegan soup comfort you.

BTW: No indigestion from anyone with the vegan version of this soup.  If you’re wondering about her hot toddy recipe, don’t worry.  When she’s up to it I’m sure we can ask her to share it.

 

 

 

A Standby by any Name

When this was published in the First Baptist Church’s cookbook in 1984, I probably knew the term “quiche”.  But when I developed this recipe, I didn’t have a clue; and so, I kept the original title of Ham and Cheese Pie.

cookbook

Like most of my favorite recipes, it came about for a reason — mainly to use up leftovers from the refrigerator.  This most forgiving recipe was a family favorite over the years regardless of the assortments of cheeses and the bits and pieces of leftover ham.

More than thirty years later, it is still a favorite standby.  I continue to be amazed at what all you can put in it.  Spinach is, I think, the best addition to the recipe that I’ve made over the years.

spinach

Isn’t it bewildering that a huge package of baby spinach sauteed becomes less than a cup?  I’m surprised every time!

mushrooms

Sauteed Shitake mushroom are also a wonderful addition.  Thirty years ago, you wouldn’t have found Shitake mushrooms at the grocery store; probably wouldn’t have found fresh baby spinach either.

ham

And prosciutto instead of ham.  No longer a leftover creation, but you get the idea.  You can add most anything!

pie slice

Serve with fresh fruits or a green salad, and you have a delicious meal whether you call it quiche or Ham and Cheese Pie.

Sure do love your peaches!

Strawberry and red raspberry season has faded, but you can’t complain when there is such an abundance of peaches and blueberries.  Early one foggy morning, I visited Blueberry Hill Farm and within about an hour and a half, picked two gallons of blueberries.  I gave away a gallon, ate a bunch over the week and froze the rest.  Now, the most delicious peaches are in season.  A juicy tree ripened peach gets you pretty darn close to heaven.  Here’s a great spot to get some.

Flipping through an issue of Real Simple, I found a recipe that combines blueberries and peaches.  Have you ever noticed how fruits and vegetables that pair well together also are in season at the same time?  I don’t think it’s a coincidence.  Peach and Blueberry Buckle — recipe is here.  Culinarily, buckle is an old American term for a simple, single-layered cake usually made with blueberries, although it can be other berries.  Most recipes also have a crumb topping.

What I love about this recipe is the ratio of fruit to batter.  There is at least twice as much fruit as batter.  Yum!

Fruit

When I mixed the fruit into the small amount of batter, it crossed my mind that it might not work.

batter

Seeing the blueberries bubbling in the oven, gave me hope.

ovenNotice that in this recipe the sugar laden crumb topping is replace with sliced almonds and a dusting of powdered sugar.

serving

How yummy is this!  The lack of sweetness gives it a very European taste.  A scoop of good vanilla ice cream would push it more into the American dessert category.  Regardless, I’m adding this recipe to my summer favorites.

Crazy Sexy Kitchen

I have been flipping and dreaming through Kris Carr’s new cookbook since it was published.  Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution is not only filled with yummy, healthy dishes, but the plating is elegant and the photography is beautiful.  Have I mentioned that food photography is something I want to study?  Add that to my ever growing list.  If you’re not familiar with Kris Carr, check her out here.

My daughter, Stefanie has been a vegetarian for over twelve years and is now mostly vegan.  When she came to visit, I pulled out the Kris Carr cookbook, and we, along with my son Matt (omnivore), went to work.

crab cakes

Hearts-of-palm style Crab Cakes with Remoulade.  I have been salivating over this recipe.  I love crab cakes, but worry about that “bottom feeder” thing.  I love hearts of palm.  And next to bearnaise sauce, remoulade is my favorite.  We couldn’t go wrong with this recipe.   It was definitely a winner!  Check it out on page 151.  Even if you don’t make the crab cakes, the sauce is worth it as a healthier version of remoulade.  As for the photography, I’m not happy with the parsley placement.  When everyone is ready to eat, staging takes a backseat.  And who knew smearing sauce is so difficult?

beets

Isn’t this a gorgeous dish!  Beetroot Ravioli with cashew cream cheese, page 193.  Not only is this delight vegan, but it’s also raw.  All this wonderful color must be good for you.  I had my doubts about making cream cheese from cashews.  Yet is was very tasty, and even more so the next day.  Red stained fingers were the only downside to eating this recipe.  Probably a small price for the health benefits.  By the way, that’s shaved raw asparagus tossed with olive oil and lemon juice on the side.

I could eat this way every day.  So, what stops me?  One is simply the learning curve of new recipes and new ingredients.  I can’t say time, because these recipes usually take no longer than the conventional versions.  Although I could open a package of cream cheese quicker than I could soak cashews and grind them.  But the biggest deterrent to healthy eating for me?

eggs

Anyone recognize these fellows?  They are “in season” right now.

 

Chicken Creole Connection

When I was writing this post about my life long love affair with a chicken creole recipe, my mind was traveling back to those days in the 70’s on Gazette Avenue.  Our next door neighbors, Ric and Judy Seaman, were in school and in much the same financial boat.  We would take turns making a special dinner, so that we had the feeling of eating out.  I still have recipes from Judy.  And this is the wonderful thing about the internet.  Out of the blue, I receive this note:

“Connie, somehow I just jumped onto your recipe blog page for Chicken Creole. I almost died when I read it!  We still use that recipe too!  Such good memories of us buying chicken when it went on sale and using it every way we could think of… I recall it going down to $.10 a pound on rare occasions and of jamming our little freezers as full as we could. To this day Ric won’t use tarragon because I made him eat so much Chicken Tarragon, but we all still do love Chicken Creole. Our kids were raised on it too!  How funny (yet great) are those memories of our little apartments on Gazette!”

She went on to mention the ducks I raised on our deck; I hadn’t thought of them in ages.  If you read this, you’ll see that some things never change!  Those were times of no computers (computers only lived in large, climate controlled rooms!), no smart phones, and no television.  Televisions were invented, we just didn’t have one.  Recreation was hikes in Red River Gorge (photo above) and canoe trips.  Do I want to go back to those times?  Nope.  I love my technology.  And I love being able to afford to go out to eat occasionally.  But it was nice to visit those times through a recipe.   And more importantly to connect with someone who shared those times and Chicken Creole.  Do you have a recipe with a story?