Cantaloupe Sorbet

Summer is in full swing here in Podunk – the weather has been stunning all week long and our gardens are growing like crazy.  We will soon have tomatoes and a variety of peppers to supplement the produce from our CSA and the farmer’s market, and I will become a canning fool.  Would y’all like me to give you the recipe and canning instructions for homemade tomato sauce?  I made it last summer, but not nearly enough, so I’ll be making it in large quantities this year.

I’m really looking forward to our 3-day weekend (for my non-USA readers, Monday is the 4th of July – Independence Day).  Beloved will be home Friday night – yay! – after being on the road for nearly two weeks.  I’m getting all of the housework and chores done before then so we don’t have to worry about anything but relaxing and firing up the grill this weekend (although I do want to find a good fireworks display and take my camera along).  I’m not sure what we’ll cook and eat this weekend, but I can guarantee it will be tasty, so be prepared for recipes next week.  One thing I plan to make is some sort of dessert – perhaps a fruit tart again of some sort.  Perhaps with strawberries, blueberries and goat cheese – what do you think?

If you’re not sure what to make, you might try some Cantaloupe Sorbet.  I love sorbets; they are super simple to make and taste so fresh.  This one is marvelous!  A little alcohol always helps with the texture of a fruit sorbet, but when I made this I had no vodka on hand, which is what I usually use because of its neutral flavor.  I did, however, have some Hendrick’s gin with it’s subtle cucumber undertones and thought, why not?  I love melon and cucumber scented and flavored things and thought that it might be interesting.  It was better than interesting – it was delicious!  Of course, if you have no Hendrick’s (or simply don’t care for gin), vodka will be fine.

Note: The riper the cantaloupe, the sweeter the sorbet.  This is an excellent way to use an over-ripe melon; adjust the amount of the honey accordingly (if it’s really sweet, you may need no honey at all).  Of course, you can use a melon that is just ripe enough; again, adjust the honey to your taste.  Remember that freezing something lessens how sweet it tastes.

Cantaloupe Sorbet

Cantaloupe Sorbet

make about eight 1/2 cup servings

1 small very ripe cantaloupe
3 tablespoons raw honey
3 tablespoons Hendrick’s gin
1/2 small lime, juiced

Half the cantaloupe and scoop out the seeds, discarding them. Cut the melon away from the rind, taking care not to include any of the green part, and cut it into cubes.

Place the cantaloupe cubes and the remaining ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until it is a smooth puree.

Pour the puree into a medium bowl (you should have between 3 ½ and 4 cups of the puree); cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until well-chilled, at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

Once chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place in a covered container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

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Makes No Difference Who You Are

We will receive not what we idly wish for but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service. ~ Earl Nightingale

Oh, if only that were true.

I really don’t like to idly wish for things, mostly because wishing is very passive and also because the things we wish for aren’t likely to happen.  Hoping, however, is a little different.  For example, I wish the brat across the street would burst into spontaneous combustion, but since that’s highly unlikely I can at least hope he’s sterile.  (It’s quite possible that will happen on its own, judging by his antics on his bicycle – the kid has a brilliant future as the next star of Jackass.)

We used to wish the brat’s step-father, Mr. Doormat, would do something about that field of dandelions he calls a lawn, but now I rather hope he doesn’t.  Because dandelion greens?  Are edible.  (It’s like we have our very own local and sustainable salad bar right across the street!)

I wish the owner of this building would change the taped music they play, but I can at least hope they cease piping music through the building once they’ve moved upstairs (if I have to listen to the theme song from Titanic one more time, I may burst into spontaneous combustion).

I could wish to be 5′ 7″, but I believe I’ll have better luck if I hope to remain taller than I am wide.  (I’m working on it!)

I wish I didn’t have to go through menopause, but now I hope to simply get through it as quickly as possible so I never have to look at another product that tells me to “have a happy period.”  (I cannot believe no one has lynched the person who thought that was a good marketing idea.)

I wish the people in the office suite right next to us would stop burning their cinnamon toast every morning; is it too much to hope the toaster oven breaks (or wonder if they’d miss it if it disappeared)?

I wish for all of our children to be responsible, law-abiding citizens who never see the inside of a jail cell, and hope they know I’ll kill ’em if they do (a strategy that has worked well for 28 years, so don’t knock it).

I wish Beloved and I could afford our very own (deserted) tropical island, but the best I can do is hope we get something that resembles a vacation sometime in the next 3 years (hell, I’d settle for seeing my husband; business trips suck swamp water IMHO).

I wish this little guy lived closer, but am glad he lives as close as he does (and hope he knows Grandma and Grandpa adore him).


Cutie Pie

Would it do me any good to wish that you’ll click this link and visit Sprite’s Keeper for more of this week’s Spin Cycle?

I hope so.

Ginger Soy Mahi Mahi with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

I talk a lot about how I’ve given up soy and here I go with a recipe that has “the S-word” in the title.

People will point out that Asians, especially the Japanese, consume a considerable amount of soy and are, overall, quite healthy, and this is true.  However, they’re not eating the same kind of soy that the average American is, nor in the amounts we do.  Processed soy is in nearly every prepackaged food available on the market (I’ll go into this in more detail in a later post), including cereals, boxed potatoes, canned soups and broths, lunch meats, sauces and condiments and sandwich breads.  Couple that with the fact that as much as 80% of the soy grown in the United States has been genetically modified and you can see what the problem with soy in the western diet is.

With the exception of tofu, Asians tend to eat their soy in some sort of fermented form – miso, tempeh, fermented black soybeans, and for the most part soy is used as a flavoring or condiment – not vegetarian chicken nuggets or breakfast sausage.  Since I tend to be very fond of Asian food, I have no problem with very small amounts of fermented soy in my diet; it’s the heavily processed and genetically modified stuff I tend to avoid.

At any rate, I made this last week and it was very delicious.  It is, however, one of those recipes that is deceptive when you look at the nutritional information, which is included in the printable version of every recipe I post.  For example, the nutritional info brings this dish in at 33 grams of carbohydrate, but in reality the amount is much less since the vast majority of the marinade is discarded and the salsa recipe makes at least double, if not triple, the amount used in the dish – I ate it for days on things like eggs before tossing what was left into our compost bucket.

Note:  If you don’t wish to fire up a grill, or don’t have one, this would work quite well on a tabletop grill, such as a George Foreman, or you can skip grilling the pineapple and bake the fish (in a dish with the marinade) at 350º F for 20 minutes, although grilling the pineapple really gives the salsa a great flavor.

Ginger Soy Mahi Mahi with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Ginger Soy Mahi Mahi with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

serves 4

3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons tamari or wheat-free soy sauce
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 filets mahi mahi, about 6 ounces each

1/2 large pineapple, skinned, cored, and cut into 1-inch rounds
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup loosely-packed, finely chopped cilantro
1 small lime, juiced

Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place the fish filets in a resealable plastic bag and cover with the marinade. Press out as much of the air in the bag as you can and seal tightly; turn several times to coat the fish. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than an hour.

Prepare and heat your grill, depending on type – if using charcoal, make sure you have a bed of hot coals, covered in ash, spread evenly beneath the grate. Grill the pineapple slices until lightly browned on both sides, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from the grill, dice, and place in a medium sized bowl with the bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice. Toss to mix well; taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.  Set aside.

Remove the mahi mahi filets from the bag and discard the marinade. Place the fish on the grill and cook until it flakes easily with a fork, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place each filet on a plate and top with about 1/4 cup of salsa and serve immediately.

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Posted in participation with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday

Pan-Fried Chicken with Bacon and Thyme Gravy

Happy Monday, y’all!  I hope you all had a lovely weekend.  Mine was all right, if lonely – Beloved is still out of town on business and won’t be home until Friday.  I spent my time doing some housework, cooking and making some changes in my little corner of the blogosphere.  Most notably, I moved all of my “old” recipes out of the recipe category and gave them their own page; if you look up at the menu bar you’ll see a new link: Real SAD.  You can click on it if you want an explanation, and a listing of all the recipes posted prior to June 2010.  There will be a couple of other changes, but you’ll see more of those later this week.

As for the cooking part of my weekend, this was dinner Saturday night – and my, was it good.  I’d taken some boneless, skinless chicken breasts out of the freezer and was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with them; if I asked The Young One, I’d have gotten the answer, “Smother them in bacon, barbecue sauce and cheese.”  Which is pretty much how he got his.  I, on the other hand, wanted something a little more sophisticated than my son’s favorite preparation of this rather bland but versatile source of protein – perhaps something with a nice sauce or gravy?

I found a recipe in a very old issue of Bon Appetit for Pan-Fried Chicken with Bacon and Thyme Gravy that sounded quite comforting and tasty, but it called for white flour, cornmeal, vegetable oil and canned chicken broth.  I felt it had potential, though, and decided to try and make it my own with healthy ingredients.  My attempt was successful; this is a lovely dish – the chicken is tender and moist, the thyme goes together really well with the sweet onion and smokey bacon and the gravy (well, I guess it’s really a sauce), while rich, is neither heavy nor overpowering.

I served this over grated cauliflower that I’d sauteed in a little lard with some onion and thinly sliced sugar snap peas, but it would go really well on a base of steamed rice or mashed potatoes, if you’re so inclined.

Pan-Fried Chicken with Bacon and Thyme Gravy

Pan-Fried Chicken with Bacon and Thyme Gravy

serves 3

3 skinless boneless chicken breasts, about 5 ounces each
3 thick bacon slices, chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon lard or other cooking fat
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper, to taste

Begin by butterflying the chicken breasts. Lay a chicken breast on a cutting board in front of you, smooth side down. Remove the tenderloin, if necessary; you will probably be able to simply pull it off, although you may need to cut if free at one end. Save the tenderloin for another use.

Turn the breast over with the narrow, pointed tip facing you and the thinner side opposite your cutting hand. Place your hand on top of the breast. Carefully insert the knife into the thickest part of the breast, and draw it almost all the way through the breast. Take care to keep the breast attached on one side.

Open the breast like a book and, if needed, use the broad side of a cook’s knife or the smooth side of a meat mallet to even out the butterflied breast, by lightly pounding the flesh until it’s an even thickness. Repeat until all 3 breasts have been butterflied; season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cook bacon in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until brown and crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion to the drippings in the pan. Cook until soft and golden, about 3 minutes; using the same slotted spoon, remove it to the paper towel with the bacon.

Increase the heat to medium high once more and add the lard or other cooking fat at to the pan. Add the chicken to the skillet and pan-fry until browned and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate, cover and keep warm.

Reduce the heat to medium low and add the chicken stock, bacon, onion and thyme to the pan, stirring occasionally until the mixture is hot. In a small bowl, whisk the arrowroot into the water with a fork, and add it to the liquid in the skillet. Stir constantly until the mixture is thickened to the desired consistency; taste, season with salt and pepper if needed and remove from the heat.

Slice the chicken breasts into strips; plate and ladle the gravy over top, and serve.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

Posted in participation with Hartke Is Online’s Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival

Posted in participation with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday

Why Your Doctor Is Probably Wrong

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time at all, you probably know that I have an inherent distrust of doctors.   Not surgeons or nurses – in fact, I’m very, very grateful for surgeons and nurses – but doctors.  Physicians.

Physicians are not gods – they are human beings.  And they are human beings that are not necessarily any smarter than you and me, they just have more (notice I did not say “better”) education.  I’ve been, ahem, intimately involved with two doctors in my life (one was a Ph.D polymer chemist and one was a pediatric oncologist) and I’m telling you, neither of them were smarter than me.  I’m not tooting my own horn here – I’m an intelligent person, but I’m no Stephen Hawking, either – I’m simply stating a fact.  They merely went to school longer than I did and had highly specialized jobs as a result.

Because physicians are human beings who simply went to school longer than the average schmoe, they are human beings who are just as susceptible to misinformation as the rest of us are.  What’s bad about that is physicians are in a position to disseminate that misinformation on a scale most of us will never know, because of the widely held belief in our society that doctors know better than we do about what’s best for our health.  In some cases this is true, but in many things it is not.

I wanted to write a great deal more about this – I’ve got tons and tons of articles and studies bookmarked – but a) I’m short on time today and 2) there are other people out there who can get this point across far better than I ever could.  I’ve mentioned this speech a couple of times before, but thought this would be a good time to actually post it, with Tom Naughton’s permission, of course.  Yes, it is 46 minutes long but it won’t seem that long once you begin watching it, trust me. Pay careful attention when, a little over 3/4 of the way through the speech, he mentions a Dr. Ioannidis, who is NOT a physician but what is known as a meta-researcher and one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research.  Listen when Tom talks about how Dr. Ionnidis charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed.


So, watch and enjoy.  And have a lovely weekend, y’all.

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday