Gathering up some gourds at the pumpkin patch

October 29, 2012


Here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon there is a ton, I mean a TON, of farms to pick from to get pumpkins, gourds, and even corn stalks.  We like to pick a different farm each year to keep the excitement going for all of us.  Every farm offers something just a bit different than the farm before it the previous year.  This year we decided to hit a farm close to home called, Grandpa's.  They offered a lot of different things, but our favorite was the sunflower maze.

Although it was cloudy for a bit and then rained on us for a minute, it soon cleared up and made for a nice pumpkin pickin' time while we were there.  








  









"We're about to get lost." -Skylar









Another dead end.


FINALLY! 


  


Muddy feet.


Eco-Tip:  Buy your fish from companies that do not farm in ways that harm the environment.  Look for sustainably-caught seafood whenever possible.  The Earth and Me Go Green




    

ONIONS! Let's cook with them

October 28, 2012

  

Onions, when added to certain dishes, they come alive with flavor.  Here are a few of the dishes I simply love to add onions to.

• Sweet Onion Soup

Ingredients:  1/4 cup butter, 2 sweet onions (Sliced), 1 tbs. all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup red cooking wine, 2-10 oz. cans condensed beef broth, 1 loaf of French bread or garlic bread, and croutons.

In a 4-quart saucepan cook onions in the butter for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the flour and blend well with the juices from the onions in the pan.  Add water, wine and broth and beat till a rolling boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes with a cover on the pan. Lower heat to low and serve with bread and croutons.

Tip:  Bring sauces and soups to a boil when reheating.  Bring heat to at least 165 degrees before eating and always keep leftovers at a safe temperature, heat doesn't always kill bacteria by reheating when food isn't kept at proper degrees when stored.

•  Chicken with Onions

Ingredients:  1 tbsp  extra-virgin olive oil, 1 whole chicken (quartered), salt and pepper, 1 large red onion (cut into wedges), 1 lb. carrots (cut into 2-inch pieces), 3/4 cup white cooking wine, 1 tbsp  honey, and parsley for garnish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large Dutch oven heat oil on high heat, season chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pot, skin side down.  Cook for about 8 minutes and place chicken on a plate and set aside.  Add onions and carrots to the pot and cook, stirring often.  Cook until onions are golden brown and add wine and honey and bring to a boil.  Scrape brown bits with a wooden spoon and then return chicken to the pot.  Add 1 cup of water and bring to a rolling boil.  Cook for about 35 minutes or until chicken is done.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

Tip:  Separate raw meat and seafood from other foods in your shopping buggy and also in your refrigerator.  Meat and other liquid from animal products contain large amounts of bacteria.

• Onion Soup

Ingredients:  1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 3 tbsp  unsalted butter, 6 yellow onions (sliced thin), 1 tsp. sugar, salt and pepper to taste, Thyme sprigs, 1 Bay leave for taste, 1 tsp. all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp  Brandy, 4 cups beef broth, stale-toasted bread, 1 garlic clove (peeled), Parsley

Using a Dutch oven, heat oil and 2-tbs. butter on high heat.  Add onions, sugar and 2 tsp. salt.  Add the thyme and bay leaf and reduce heat to medium-low.  Be sure and scrape up brown bits with a wooden spoon.  Once the onions reach a medium brown color (About 1 hour )  Reduce heat if needed while cooking and add water when needed if onions begin to stick.  Set 1/2 cup onions aside and leave the rest in the Dutch oven.  Stir in 1 tbs. butter, flour and Brandy and cook until butter is melted completely.  Add broth and simmer on high heat for 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with garlic bread and soup on top of bread.  Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Tip:  Don't cross contaminate!  Never place food back on a plate that was use before with raw meat or seafood!

• Bean Burger with Pickled Onions

Ingredients:  1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, 1 small red onion, 1 tsp. sugar, 2 tbs. red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, 2 1/2 cups cooked black beans, 1 red bell pepper, 1 cup fresh, chopped cilantro, 1/3 dry bread crumbs, 1 large egg (beaten), 3 tbsp. mayo, 1 thinly sliced avocado

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil and add the red onion that's been thinly sliced and cook for 1 minute, add 1 tsp. sugar and cook together until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Place the mixture in a small bowl and wipe skillet off.  Mash 2 cups of the cooked beans in a bowl and then drain, stir in bell pepper that's been finely chopped.  Add in 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro and the bread crumbs, along with beaten egg and 1/2 cups cooked black beans (not mashed but, drained).  Season with salt and pepper and form mixture into patties.  Heat 1 tbs. oil and cook patties until crisp and flip once to make crisp on opposite side.  Serve on Kaiser rolls that have been spread with mayo and top with avocado and red onions. 

Onions are one of the foods that often get overlooked when it comes to certain dishes.  You can add an onion to just about anything you're cooking to get it just a hint of flavor, or a lot.  And the best part, onions come in a variety of different species.

Yellow 
Red
White
Shallots
Pearl
And many, many others.  

Enjoy!


Eco-Tip:  Try to eat less meat.  Reducing meat consumption will reduce pollution problems within our food-related land use and factories.  If cutting meat out completely isn't an option, try to opt for only 2 meals of meat-related dishes a week.  For this and other tips on going green visit, The Earth and Me Go Green.




    

Spark of Loves this Week: Ducks, Saddles, Quote, Wreath, Meaning, Tree, Park

October 26, 2012

This Video.

Because I really like seeing people doing things for good.  

These Saddles.

Because they were part of the photo-taking session I was a part of at the Pioneer School Roundup.

This Quote.

Because it really should become a daily statement that everyone says out loud   "Be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble".  -The Optimist Creed by Christian D. Larson

This Wreath.

Because I got it last year before Christmas and I still don't have the heart to throw it away.  I feel like I can "repurpose it" in some way.  Just wait.......

This Meaning.

Because Ayurveda Medicine and alternative medicine really does work.  It has helped me combat a lot of issues throughout my lifetime.  Give it a try.  

This Wedding Tree.

Because I love this little thumbprint tree.  This was actually hanging on my brother's wall.  I still can't believe my little brother is married!

Random Photo of the Week:

Park Play!  Gosh I am missing summer already!  Are you?


Eco-Tip:  Recycling your plastic grocery bags is a great way to stop the creation of virgin products.  Places like Walmart, Kroger, and even some mom and pop stores will take back the plastic bags if you make the effort to bring them in.  For this and other tips on going green visit, The Earth and Me Go Green.




    

How to read a wine label and serve wine

October 25, 2012

With the holidays coming, wine is a must for any household really for any type of celebration.  For the longest time I would steer away from certain wines because I just didn't know what I was buying.  If you tend to have the same avoidance, I do hope this blog post can help you strive to include more wines and wine choices into your holiday atmosphere   Seems easy enough to read a wine label, right?  Well, it could be a little more tricky than you might think. Here's the rundown on the basics.

Cristalino Brut Cava



Reading a wine label, above all very simple, you just have to know what to look for. Here is a quick rundown of what's important on a wine label.

• The brand name: The brand is important enough, but sometimes the least likely known brand might be better than the name brand.

• Where the grapes are grown: It could read Napa Valley, it could read just France or Italy, this is important to knowing where your wine was created from.

• The type of wine: Reading something similar such as Chardonnay, or Cabernet or even Sauvignon. Your taste options and what you like will more than likely depend on this wording on the label, so pay attention to what it is you're drinking.

• Quality: Such as Special Reserve, etc.

• Where the wine was bottled: Now this isn't the same as where the grapes that made the wine were grown, this will read anything from "Bottled in Cellar", "Cellar-ed in California" or even "Bottled by Awesome Wine Guys", etc.

• Amount of Wine: This will be near the bottom of the bottle and read the oz, ml, or even gallons, depending on how much you purchase.

• Alcohol Percentage: This is always near the bottom of the label and it's the alcohol per bottle percentage such as 13.6% by volume and so on.
Most people are prone to serving their White Wines too cold and their Red Wines too hot, and it ends up making the wines taste rather dull in the end.

The best way to remember how to serve white wine is the temperature you stored it at, which should be about 50-55°F, is the best way to get the great flavor to come through on the wine.  If you store your white wine at room temperature, use an ice bucket with a little water in it to get the temperature to come down on the wine before serving it.



The best way to remember how to serve white wine is anything below 70°F.  Anything higher than 70 degrees is too high of a temperature for red wines.  Red wine doesn't taste very appealing hotter than 70 degrees and it loses a lot of taste in the heat of the wine, as well.

Temperatures and Chilling Times:

• Champagne & Sparkling Wines:  40-45°F (Chill for about 30-45 minutes)

• White Wines:  45-50°F (Chill for about 20-30 minutes)

• Light, Fruity Reds:  50-55°F (Chill for about 15-20 minutes)

• Full-bodied Reds:  60-65°F (Chill for about 10 minutes)


Whites out of chilling 30 minutes before serving, reds in 30 minutes before serving.  Some people differ on that time, but anywhere from 15-30 minutes before serving should be just fine.

CHEERS!


Eco-Tip:  Choose gifts that don't contribute to the use of virgin materials.  Look to vintage at antique stores or thrift stores.  Who knows, the antique you are giving to a relative or a friend, that you paid $20 for could end up being a real treasure and worth more than you think.  For this and other tips on going green visit, The Earth and Me Go Green.




    
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