Eggs and Asparagus

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This is so easy and as good tasting as it is easy. It is important, though, that you make it with young asparagus, picked when the stalks are thin like a pencil and not as big as your fingers in circumference.

I heated 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet while I cleaned and trimmed the ends off the asparagus. I used 10 pieces of asparagus because I was very hungry. I put the asparagus in the oil to cook for about 3-4 minutes and then turned them spears. I cracked 3 eggs on top, added a few small pieces of cheese, some salt and pepper and covered so the eggs would cook with some steam. After a couple minutes, I took off the lid and served it all up on a plate.

The asparagus was tender and the eggs were a perfect complement. The bits of cheese added just a bit of rich creaminess to a bite. It was a delicious meal for an early lunch.

Pickled Brussels Sprouts

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These were tasty when warm, but cold the next day they were so much, much better. They are very flavorful so just a couple satisfies your taste buds and make a good snack between meals.

First clean about a pound of brussels sprouts and cut off the stems. Put in a cooking pot with a liquid that is 1/2 white wine vinegar and 1/2 water – just enough to cover the sprouts. Add 1 thumb of ginger roots sliced into small toothpick size sticks, 1 jalapeño cut into strips about thumb length, add 1/2 of a yellow onion. I diced them, but next time I will cut into sections so they can be picked up with your finger or a toothpick. I cut a lemon into 1/4s and tossed it in. I added about 1/4 cup of sugar and salt and pepper and brought it to a boil. I let it continue to simmer until he sprouts were tender.  After it cooled, I poured into a storage container and let chill.

It’s spicy with great heat and flavor but not the least bit uncomfortably hot. The lemon and vinegar make is nice and tart for a fabulous sweet, sour and hot blend.

Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts

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This was a quick dish I threw together for lunch. I chopped up about 2 TBSP of yellow onions and sautéed them in 1 TBSP of olive oil. I added some salt and pepper. While the sautéed, I slice 4 mushrooms and added them and let them cook while I cleaned and sliced 8 brussels sprouts. I then added them to the pan, tossed in a little more salt and pepper and one diced clove of garlic and continued to cook, tossing lightly. When the veggies were tender, I squeezed the juice of 1/3 of a fresh lemon on top, tossed again before turning them into a bowl for lunch.

The mushrooms add a bit of earthiness and is there anything tastier than some lemon and garlic in oil on delicious fresh vegetables?

Ginormous Rutabaga Lentil Soup

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I love a good lentil soup and make it frequently. I usually use a ham shank to add some depth to the flavor of the broth, but vegans can leave the ham shank out and make it vegan. It will still taste good. This batch, though, was the best ever thanks to the idea of adding a couple rutabaga.

So here’s the recipe.

Heat 1.5 TBSP of olive oil in your stew pot. Add some pepper and cumin to heat and infuse the oil.

Add 1 large yellow onion, chopped and let soften.

Then add 3 chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery and 4 diced garlic and saute.

Peel and chop two rutabaga and add, let all of this cook a bit.

This is when us carnivores can add the ham shank. Add a couple quarts of water and let simmer until veggies are tender.

Add one pound of lentils and cook until tender.

This is a rich and hearty soup and the rutabaga adds a tartness that is just incredible. It makes a huge pot of soup – about 8 to 10 bowls similar to the one in the picture.

Turnip and Pineapple Salad

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This is a simple, but tasty, salad that only gets better the next day.

Peel one turnip and dice into small rectangles or squares. Chop 1/4 of a Spanish onion. Chop up 1 cup of pineapple chunks and chop about 3 TBS of fresh parsley. Mix together with a bit of salt and 1 tsp of cayenne and let settle so the pineapple juice marry the ingredients together.

The cayenne blends perfectly with the sweetness of the pineapple and its acid is a good counterpoint to the earthy turnip. The onion brightens the flavor and the parsley adds color and freshness.

This makes 2 servings or 4 small servings the size of the one in the picture.

Spicy Simmered Cabbage and Tomatoes

Cabbage and Tomatoes

This is a simple, but hearty dish that takes just minutes to prepare and cook.

First I put 1 TBSP of olive oil in a pan and heated it with a tsp of anise seed, bring out the aroma. While it heated, I cut up one onion in thin slices and diced two garlic cloves and tossed them in the oil to soften. I added salt and pepper.

While the onions cooked, I cut up 1/4 of a head of cabbage, cutting wedges about 1/2 inch thick or so and then slicing the wedges in half. I broke them up with my fingers as I dropped them into the pan of onions and garlic and added a bit of salt and pepper. I let them sauté for a few minutes before adding one 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chiles. I just use the Safeway® store brand which is only $0.69 a can. I added some water to the can (about half full) and swished it around before pouring it into the pan to add a bit more liquid. Then I let everything simmer until the cabbage was tender, but toothsome, removing it before the cabbage lost all of its green color.

You can serve this on top of mashed potatoes, rice, pasta or cooked sausage or, just serve it on its own. It’s got a lot of heat from the chiles, but the touch of anise softens that flavor and adds complexity. This is not a single serving recipe by any means, but it reheats into 4 different single servings.

Lamb Neck Braised with Turnip and Sweet Potato

Lamb Neck Braised

Groceries are becoming incredibly expensive, especially meat. When I saw Safeway had lamb neck for only $3.49 a pound i decided to try it. I love the flavor of lamb but have mainly cooked shoulder roasts, shanks or chops. Being neck bones, I knew the meat would probably be tough, the more connective tissue there is, the tougher the meat tends to be. Neck bones are considered offal – the cheap cuts that are often neglected. Sometimes for good reason, but in this case, it turned out to be wonderful. So with tough meat, the trick is to cook low and slow, so I decided to braise it.

I preheated the oven to 300° Fahrenheit.

I put this big skillet on the stove with about 2 TBSP of olive oil and heated the oil. I added 2 pinches of cardamom and a pinch of cumin, 1 small chopped yellow onion and 2 diced gloves of garlic with a bit of salt and pepper.. When the onion was tender, I added the neck bones – about 2/3rds of a pound, added salt and pepper and browned them.

Meanwhile I scrubbed 2 carrots and cut them into big pieces (the more you chop up your carrots, the more nutrients leach out.) Then I chopped up 2 celery stalks. I peeled 1 turnip and 1 sweet potato and cut them into chunks as well. I added to the mix with some salt and pepper and stirred. Then I added 1 can of diced tomatoes and then filled the can with water and added that as well.

Then I popped in the oven and let cook slowly for what seemed like days but was only 2 hours. My apartment was redolent of the aroma of lamb, tomatoes, cardamom and all this goodness that the time passed slowly. But it was so worth the wait!

The turnip and cardamom really make this recipe, the tart sweetness of turnip was exactly what was needed to add a grace note to this hearty meal. The tomatoes and carrots added sweetness, the celery gave it an earthy base and the sweet potato added flavorful substance. It was so delicious I actually used my finger to clean the broth from the pan.

Please note that I added salt and pepper with each new step. The reason is that you should always season what you are cooking in the moment, adding the season again with new ingredients. Not only will it taste better, you are less likely to overseason it.

This made four servings of stew – and with just $2.09 worth of meat. Definitely a rich meal that is not costly. In fact, it’s only $1.42 per serving – excluding the cost of spices.

  • $2.09 Lamb
  • $1.69 Sweet Potato
  • $0.45 Turnip
  • $0.10 Carrot
  • $0.21 Celery
  • $0.32 Onion
  • $0.12 Garlic
  • $0.69 Diced Tomatoes

Warm Mushroom and Kale Salad

Warm Kale Mushroom Salad

This was a fast and easy salad that I decided to have as an entree instead. It makes a single serving entree or two sides. The key to success is not overcooking the kale, letting it darken in color but not cooking until it wilts. That makes the rest seem more like a dressing for the kale and keeps it fresh in taste, texture and appearance.

Warm 1 TBSP of olive oil, add 1/4 cup of diced onions, 1/4 chopped red peppers and sauté until tender. Add salt and pepper. Meanwhile clean and slice 9 small mushrooms or whatever amount you need to make 1 cup of sliced mushrooms. Also mince one clove of garlic. Add the garlic and mushrooms and let cook until tender. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Finally, add 2 cups of chopped, cleaned kale and 1.5 tBSP of Balsamic Vinegar and stir. Keep stirring quickly so the kale heats evenly and quickly without steaming and wilting. Add salt and pepper to taste.

It might sound crazy to add salt and pepper three times, but the secret of good seasoning is to season at each stage of cooking for the amount that you have in your pan. This will make your seasoning more effective and actually end up using less salt and pepper.

This is earthy with a bit of tanginess from the balsamic vinegar. The flavors blended beautifully and would make a great side dish for something like a pork chop or beef steak, but is capable of standing on its own.

Red Chard & Kidney Bean Soup

Red Chard & Kidney Bean Soup

I had some fresh red chard the other day and wanted to make something simple. I decided on a simple soup with some sausage. I had some breakfast sausage so I worked with that.

I diced 1/2 of a yellow onion and two cloves of garlic and sautéed in about 1 tbsp of olive oil. I added salt, pepper and a couple teaspoons of oregano. Then, I added 6 ounces of breakfast sausage and cooked until it browned. I peeled and chopped 2 carrots and 1 potato and added them. Then I added 1 small 6 oz. can of diced tomatoes and about 12 oz of water and left it to simmer.

Meanwhile I cut the red chard leaves in thing strips and about 10 minutes before serving I added the chard and cooked until it was softened. I also added a can of kidney beans. I did not bother straining or rinsing the beans, knowing the liquid will just enrich the broth.

This made a delicious and simple soup that only got better the next day and the next. It made 4 servings.