Wednesday, May 29, 2013

And for breakfast . . .

What was your most memorable breakfast?

If I could be transported back in time, perhaps it would be the first time I had breakfast in Istanbul, on the rooftop of the Askin Hotel, just two blocks from the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, our bird's eye view. 

Each morning, a short Turkish lady who spoke no English, sliced just-baked French bread, home-made butter, and with big smiles, served us a dark, mystery marmelade, goat cheese, tomato, boiled egg, and cups and cups of steaming hot tea. 

I remember the sun shining, and there, to the north, we could see Haga Sophia and the spires of Topkapi Palace.
Entering the Courtyard of the Blue Mosque,
Istanbul, Turkey (Camp 2004)

Just now I'm learning how to use Amazon's cloud and transferring photos from CDs to "the cloud" -- including this PowerPoint slide show, highlights of our visit to Turkey.

Meanwhile, here in Spokane and far from Istanbul, I haunt the farmer's market in search of goat cheese and fresh artisan bread.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday means Fabio's Meatballs . . .

Maybe you've already watched Fabio cook. He jokes, he flirts, he flings ingredients around. The result:  Fabulous! 

So yesterday, I looked at the hamburger defrosting in the fridge and thought about Fabio. While I rarely flirt in the kitchen, Fabio kind of cooks like me -- he doesn't measure exactly. So I watched his video once again (see below). 

I didn't have all his fancy ingredients, BUT I made the most wonderful meatballs. 

Here's my meatball recipe inspired by Fabio which serves four. (Fabio's video follows).

1. Make breadcrumbs. Cube 2 slices of your favorite bread. Stir fry cubes until toasted in 1 TBS or so of butter and a little olive oil (enough to generously cover the bottom of your frying pan). Salt or add garlic salt to taste. Set aside.

2. Make the meatball mixture. Mix well in no special order: about 1 pound of hamburger with 2 eggs, about 1 cup fresh basil shredded, about 1 cup of your favorite Parmesan cheese, those home-made bread crumbs, 3 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped fine, about 1 teasp of oregano, and a healthy teasp of salt. Set aside.

3. Make the sauce. Open a can of S&W crushed tomatoes (Italian Recipie with Oregano & Basil). Warm up in large frying pan. 

4. Make the meatballs. Fabio suggests rubbing your hands with a little olive oil so the hamburger doesn't stick to your hands (this works). As you form the meatballs, put them in the simmering tomatoes. Add a little water and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn gently and simmer another 10 minutes. Make the pasta (spaghetti) during these last 10 minutes. Add a little more water if the sauce gets too thick. UPDATE: I threw in a handful of spinach right before serving. That's some of the green stuff.

5. Prepare a presentation plate of sauce and meatballs, drizzling a little olive oil on the top AND adding a little leftover fresh basil. Serve with pasta, garlic bread, maybe a glass of vino, and a green salad. Oh, heck, how about spumoni for dessert. Enjoy!

My Meatballs -- inspired by Fabio (Camp 2013)

And here's Fabio himself -- an inspiring and inspired cook!

Update: May 24: For some inexplicable reason, Yahoo! took down Fabio's fabulous video on preparing these delicious meatballs, so please visit his home site at  You won't be disappointed . . . 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Elephants don't eat chicken . . .

This last week, I've experimented with chicken. Take 4 chicken breasts and make Chicken Tacos (meal one), Chicken Pesto Sandwiches (meal two), and Chicken Pesto Salad (meal three).

The following recipes have nothing to do with elephants -- except that elephants have voracious appetites. You can trace their trail through the grasslands by checking for dead trees. They attack the trees, rip them from the ground, tusk them apart, and trample them. Dry brushwood is left. I keep remembering these beautiful elephants from their protected nature preserve in Tanzania. Perhaps we are the ones with voracious appetites, for poaching is decimating their numbers. 

But to the chicken. Three recipes follow: Easy Chicken Tacos, Chicken Pesto Sandwiches (my first attempt at making pesto), and Chicken Pesto Salad.

Elephant Crossing, Tarangire National Forest, Tanzania, Africa (Camp 2012)
Easy Chicken Tacos for Two
4 corn tortillas
4-5 chicken breasts
2 handfuls of cheese from 1 pkg shredded cheese (I like Mexican blend or cheddar)
1 tomato, chopped
Handful of chopped lettuce
4-5 basil leaves chopped
Optional: green onions, salsa, mushrooms, avocado

1. Simmer the chicken breasts just covered with water flavored with a little garlic salt. Takes about 15 minutes.
2. While the chicken is cooking, assemble and chop ingredients.
3. Cool the chicken. Take 1 and a half breasts and shred. Put the rest of the chicken in the fridge for other meals.NOTE: I then tossed the shredded chicken in the frying pan with a little olive oil and added mushrooms, more garlic salt and stir fried.
4. Cook the tortillas in either butter or olive oil, flipping until crisp.
5. Make your own taco and add salsa to your taste.

Home-made Pesto
Spring brought these large, bushy basil plants to my local store for $3.99. Time to make pesto! Get your food processor out!

Pluck leaves and wash enough basil  to fill about 2 cups of basil leaves.
Grind up the following in the food processor and dump in a bowl:
3 cloves of garlic (skinned) 
1/2 cup sliced almonds  (I'm trying more next time)
Grind up the basil.
Mix 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/2 cup lemon juice. Add about 1/2 teasp garlic salt.
Mix all and set aside.

Chicken Pesto Sandwiches.
Incredibly easy! Take that leftover chicken and chop it up into small bite-sized pieces. Add 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped. Add the pesto. Put generous amount of chicken mix onto a very fresh baguette or other designer bread. (You don't need mayonaise because of the olive oil.) Add thick slice of tomato. Lunch to die for. Supper to die for. Snack to die for. You get the picture. Store the leftover chicken pesto.

Chicken Pesto Salad.
It's hot outside. Cool off with the rest of the chicken pesto!  Take two plates. Add handfuls of your favorite lettuce chopped. Scatter 1/2 cucumber sliced, 1 tomato and 1 avocado bite-sized atop the lettuce. Add leftover chicken pesto. Add parsley and chopped green onions (optional)
Dressing: 1/3 cup olive oil + 1/3 cup lemon + garlic salt. Mix and pour over salads.
Also optional but very good:  Make croutons! Take one slice wheat bread and cube it. Stir fry in a little butter until brown. Sprinkle over salad.

As they say in Africa:  Jambo! (This means 'hello there' in a very friendly way.)

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Satisfy your McMuffin Craving . . . at home!

Here's a family recipe that comes to me via hearsay and stories from my brother-in-law some 3,000 miles away. 

Once the craving hits for a certain kind of tasty muffin, you don't have to get dressed, leap in the car, or drive to the closest giant arches. You can create these wonders right at home with a few simple ingredients. Here's how we make McMuffins at home.

For each person, gather:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 English Muffin
  • cheese (if desired)
  • Tomato slice
  • Lettuce slice or spinach
  • butter
Melt butter in small frying pan. While egg is cooking, toast buttered English Muffin in toaster oven. Flip egg over. When egg is finished cooking and muffin is toasted, assemble McMuffin by building layers: egg, slice of tomato, sprinkle or slice of cheese, lettuce or spinach. Serve with hot tea or coffee. Pretend you are eating out and enjoy.

The Glorious McMuffin at Home

It's truly spring here in Spokane. Dear hubby scared the tar out of me by coming up behind me while I'm working on the computer. He put this lovely Pooh Bear next to my head and squeezed its tummy. When you squeeze its tummy, it says such creepy things like, "We're friends" and "Hello" or giggles. I don't think he deserves a McMuffin this week.