Wednesday, February 29, 2012

EZ DIET IDEAS THAT WORK

“Here comes the orator! With her flood of words, and her drop of reason and her lack of will power.” ~Benjamin Franklin with Calamity Janet

Let’s take a journey into our DNA. What messages does your sub-conscious mind send you when you are eating junk and only junk? Do you ever get that uneasy feeling that you should just grab an apple? Does a piece of celery ever lure you to the refrigerator…or a carrot? How ‘bout some peas or squash? No cravings for those?

Here is an EZ list of what to eat.

Meat
Fish
Fowl
Shellfish
Eggs
Berries
Fruit
Roots
Tree nuts
Vegetables

The list of what not to eat can be EZ too.

Don’t eat anything white!

No sugar
No flour
No dairy
No potatoes
No rice

Add to that list:

No processed foods that have labels with a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Those are the “fast” foods, the EZ to prepare foods, the delicious foods that you and your family enjoy. These foods have tons of salt and sugar added…and they are bad for you. That is a non-disputed fact.

Do you think that our DNA will adapt to our “processed” diet and people will be healthy again eating their weight in donuts and pizza?

“The spirit cannot endure the body when overfed, but, if underfed, the body cannot endure the spirit.” ~ St. Frances de Sales

I would like for you to consider this fact:  

The Western diet, our diet in the United States of America, has ruined the health of ancient cultures. Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are taking over this country. Period.

We are all from ancient cultures.

The Native Americans among us who live on the reservations have suffered immensely.

My “ah ha” moment about this came when visiting the restroom in a Wal-Mart close to an Indian reservation a few years ago.

There were these strange boxes on the wall of the restroom. I read the directions on the box and was astonished to learn that the boxes were for the disposal of hypodermic needles.

My mind immediately went to heroin addicts “shooting up” in the bathrooms. I thought how odd it was that Wal-Mart would provide a convenience for heroin addicts. I am sure that my reaction went back to a disturbing movie I saw many years ago called “Lady Sings the Blues” about the jazz singer, Billie Holiday.

The boxes were for the disposal of needles used by diabetics. The large population of diabetic Native Americans living close to this Wal-Mart prompted the boxes being installed.

My ancient culture has the same problem. If I quit eating flour and sugar, I will lose weight.

It has taken several centuries for the Native Americans health to deteriorate, but deteriorate it has. So has ours.

When we eat the wrong things our internal plumbing becomes confused. The digestion of bad food takes longer because our internal functioning “administrator” doesn’t have a clue what to do with the food. Our genetic code doesn’t recognize the bad stuff.The process causes stress to our organs and steals valuable nutrients from our immune system causing dis-ease. Then we are ill and must take medication to get better. It is a cat chasing its tail.

There are many scholars who have been studying this phenomenon for a long time.

They are perplexed.

They have found that the explanation for diabetes in Native American tribes is that their genetic makeup will not properly assimilate sugar and flour.

Genetics, the Western diet and a more sedentary lifestyle (no more hunting and gathering) are the culprits.

What happens if you leave the fat in your diet and take away the sugar and flour?

You lose weight and girth. Overall you feel better, have more energy, have a clearer mind, and sleep better. Your body is at ease…without dis-ease.

We were watching a National Geographic special recently that focused on the residents of Papua, New Guinea. They have had no outside influence on their diet and lifestyle. They are an untouched ancient culture that is thriving still. No changes in their diet or lifestyle for thousands of years. And, they are happy and healthy. Just imagine, being happy without Google or Gucci…or books, or electricity or indoor plumbing. I think I can get along without all of those things except books and Google.

Philosophically, this drives me crazy!

I fervently believe that only education can change people’s habits. How odd that we should educate our population to eat the way we were meant to eat for optimum health…to go backwards.

Change is hard.

Teach me why it is bad for me…why I shouldn’t eat it…why I will be healthier if I don’t eat it, I will listen. I might change a little bit. I might eat less than I used to eat. I might quit it altogether. And I might not.

Teach me that if I am carrying an unborn child in my womb I should take a break from foods and other things that might harm my baby. I will listen and I will try to protect my child. I will do my best to do what’s best.

Teach me that when the child is born to continue to be healthy and make healthy choices. Teach through example so that your children will want their ancestors’ diet and not the fast food diet.

That is how change takes place, one person at a time.

Maybe…just maybe…people can change; the ancient cultures can survive and rediscover their food traditions and their health.

Education is the key to helping people find their best selves and optimum health.

Can we live in a society with books, indoor plumbing, iphones, smartwhatevers, and computers and still have healthy, in control bodies?

Change is difficult. Think about how hard it is to change youself and then it is easy to realize why it is even harder to change someone else.

Smoking has gone from being a mandatory socially elite activity to carrying a reprehensible stigma. That is CHANGE! 

We ancient spirits can figure this out.

“Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don’t eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on.” ~George Bernard Shaw







Sunday, February 26, 2012

FROM THE BUNKHOUSE DIET TO THE RIVERBEND DIET

Sorry friends I had to take a detour to celebrate the birthdays of two of our children and Valentine’s Day, all of which occurred within the same week. That week has always been a fun and busy time for us.

No diet food on those posts. Now it’s time to get back to business.

We spent three years living in the Bunkhouse. We enjoyed being able to go out the front door and walk up the driveway to work or walk out the back door and go to the river fishing.

We were “porking up” in grand style.

During the normal day-to-day operation of our real estate business, we had many wonderful folks stop by the office to visit about real estate values. Often they were locals who had lived in Greer longer than we had who were possibly thinking of selling, or, they were complaining about their property taxes, thinking maybe we could tell them how to “fix” them.


My “pat” response was, “If you want to sell, you want your value to be as high as possible. If you want low taxes, you want your value to be as low as possible.” They nodded in agreement. It was safe to give them a range of value so they could decide what they wanted.

Most of our business was selling vacation ownership to families from the desert that wanted a summer and skiing getaway.

Every now and then, we had a visit from some local business people inquiring how they might retire and move from “the mountain”. How could they sell their business and be able to leave? Some cited health reasons while others had financial concerns.

It was common that being Greer business people meant that you had cash flow but no savings. If you owned the property and had substantial equity, selling might enable a secure retirement.

It is a well-known fact that every tourist that comes to Greer thinks that the business people who can live, work and get rich in such a beautiful, abundant place have got it made!

Having lived there for twenty-five years and owned and operated three businesses, I consider myself qualified to say that no one ever gets rich being in business in Greer, AZ.

A life rich in beauty, clean air and clear cool water? Yes, yes and yes!

In fact, most people suffer immense financial difficulty. From those who were descendants of pioneer families and were given the land to those newcomers who come with rose-colored glasses, investing every dime they have, it is common knowledge that you work 24/7/365. You always have to borrow money in the winter to survive…paying it back with summer revenue. That is, if you are fortunate to have summer revenue.

If the past few years the calamities have been numerous: drought, two major fires, floods, not enough snow and too much snow.


A pioneer spirit is mandatory and physical strength doesn’t hurt either. A common scenario for couples that own a Greer business and do manage to survive is when one person runs the business and the other secures financial stability with a paycheck by finding a job “in town”. That is, in Eagar or Springerville, the two towns that make up what is known as Round Valley, about 18 miles from Greer.

Add to those difficulties, the altitude. It is 8500 feet. A local doctor told us that if there were something wrong with you the symptoms would be exaggerated living at a high altitude. On the other hand, if there is nothing wrong with you, you will be healthier.

With that information, I’ve determined that if you are under 60 and are able to live in Greer without working, you will, most likely, live a very long and healthy life. I think youth and wealth should be added to the good doctor’s advice.

I have always said that divine intervention caused us to buy Jack and Rusty’s cabins. Sometimes we just don’t have control over our destiny.

I left the Bunkhouse early one morning for my usual walk to the end of the road and back.

That day, as always, I passed by Jack and Rusty’s cabins as I walked my normal route to the end of the road. I would pass their place again going home.

As I passed by Jack and Rusty’s on this particular day, I paused and looked their direction, admiring the wild hops growing around the front window of their home. I thought about them and their dilemma. I was sad for them that they weren’t able to do what was best for their health and well-being at this time in their lives. They had leased the cabins to a neighboring lodge so they were relieved of the responsibility of running the cabin business. But there was a certain emptiness they felt as they watched others working on their cabins, knowing that they could no longer handle the day-to-day work of the business.

No one wants constant reminders of their limitations.

I said, “God, please help me find a buyer for this property to help Jack and Rusty so that they can enjoy the rest of their lives without worry.”

I continued on my walk.

At the end of the road is Government Spring and a path that meanders along the Little Colorado River.





If you take the path south you can walk along the river forever into the forest. Go north and you end up back in the village.

After getting my usual taste of the cold water from the spring, I walked north on the path by the river to where it leads back up to the road and headed home. I called it “praying the river”. I would walk along and offer up prayers…repeating them over and over…feeling like the water would carry them to some higher place to be heard.

When I walked into the Bunkhouse I greeted Peter with a familiar phrase that he has always dreaded hearing.

 “I have an idea!”

He looked at me somewhat sternly with raised eyebrows and huge question marks in his eyes.

Looking down, I said in a soft whisper, “I think we should buy Jack and Rusty’s cabins”.

The last time I had dared to utter those words-“I have an idea”-was on a special birthday. He had asked what I would like to do to celebrate. I had said, “I think we should hike to the top of Mt. Baldy.”

He usually honored my wishes.

Jack and Rusty Wilkbank would often pop in to visit us in our real estate office on their way to the post office or the library. They had listed their cabins with another real estate company in town but always asked us why we thought that the cabins hadn’t sold.

I offered the notion that the right buyers hadn’t come along yet.

They were getting up in years and not enjoying the best of health. It was difficult for them to think of leaving as Jack had been born in Greer and he and Rusty had reared their children there.

My heart was heavy with their situation and I wished I could help.

The listing had expired with the other company and they continued to ask us if we could help. We did take them an offer, though unsuccessful, from a nice couple from Sedona. We thought that they should have taken that offer.

If they had, this would be a different story.

Every time we discussed the situation with them, Rusty would suggest that we should buy the cabins. I guess she planted the seed.

Within a month of that late summer brainstorm, we had moved into Jack and Rusty’s main house and we were the proud owners of six nightly rental cabins.


We operated that business as well as the real estate business and the gallery at our old property. We also added the Homestead and the Bunkhouse to our nightly rental inventory. We were busy!

How comforting it was to cook in the big country kitchen in our new house. I had found my perfect life!

I could see the fireplace and the television from the kitchen…two of my requirements for happiness…and I could see our guests driving up to the front door to check in.

The office where the guests checked in was a small office space just inside the front door of our home.

I could work, cook, eat, gaze at the fire, and watch Oprah all at the same time.

Peter took care of his cabin chores in the mornings and would go to the store and real estate office in the afternoons.

When he got there, I went home.

He would be home just after 5:00. I would give him a report of our guests who had arrived and he would tell me about activities at the store and real estate office.

Dieting was the last thing on our minds. We were working so hard and had to eat lots of food to keep up our strength.

I cooked and cooked and cooked. We ate and ate and ate. 


Then I bought some new clothes. Big clothes. Very loose big clothes.


MY BAKED ARRAY OF GOODIES FOR THE CHRISTMAS CAROLERS AND GRANDCHILDREN COMING TO VISIT.
My coping mechanism of denial was no longer working.

I tried getting a haircut but that didn’t help. I was still fat. Only now I was fat with short hair. Add to that I had to get stronger glasses. Good grief!

I was getting older. What, out of all of these problems, did I have control over?


IS THERE A FEMININE WORD FOR "BUBBA"?
My weight and my health.

I found the Atkins book of magic and read it again. It had been ten years since I had last studied Dr. Atkins’ words and practiced his program.

I was making a trip to the city to see my mother, children and grandchildren in my big loose clothes. My favorite, I remember, was a blue denim A-line dress with no waist. Frumpy to say the least.

I didn’t tell Peter that I was going to start the Atkins diet while I was gone. It’s easier to start it when you won’t be cooking and can “exercise” more will power. I do love my own cooking.

I left the Atkins book on the table beside his favorite chair.

HE READ IT!

He says now that he hadn’t read very far in the book before he decided that it was what we needed to do. He is too polite to say that we needed to do it because I was fat. He thought he had gained weight too but he is very tall. It doesn’t show.

I know that extra weight is damaging to our bones and joints. I knew I had to do something. I was carrying around about 40 extra pounds.

Try picking up two twenty-pound weights and carrying them around doing all of your normal daily activities. I was working hard physically in the cabins and the store. I was hurting myself.

While on this trip, I had my first twinge of pain in my right hip when I was getting out of the car one day. It was too late to save that hip.

When I got home from this trip I was well into the routine. It takes two weeks for your body to change and for ketosis to take place. If you can make it for the first two weeks, you’re on your way.

That was ten years ago.

I lost 38 pounds and felt fabulous. Peter lost some weight too and would easily do this diet again. He thinks it is the healthy way to eat and live.

Now there’s a “modified” Atkins diet that I will have to research. I have gained twenty pounds in this past decade. Time to give it a go again.

That is the total of 150 pounds that I have lost in the past 30 years for any of you "followers" that are keeping track.

As I pointed out previously, I have never gained back the weight I started from each time. We'll see what the fourth dieting decade holds.


For the naysayers out there who say that yo-yo dieting is unhealthy, I can only offer that this is my way of doing things. I love to cook for my family and my husband. I also thoroughly enjoy eating what I cook. It is just that there comes a time every ten years or so that I say, "OK Janet, lets lose some weight."


I've been on the Atkins diet three times in the last 30 years. I have been thin more than I have been too heavy. I get regular check-ups and am pleased to report that at this time I have good cholesterol levels, my blood pressure is normal, and I do not have any signs of diabetes or heart disease. I am thankful everyday for my excellent health.

I want to keep it that way.


Disclaimer: I am not qualified to give medical advice. If you have health-related issues please consult your healthcare provider before trying any diet.






















Thursday, February 23, 2012

MIL'S SPINACH BROWNIES

Mil’s Spinach Brownies



This was, without a doubt, one of my favorite recipes of Mother’s friend, Mil. 


She lived in a modern day cabin, in a thick woods, with her comforting colonial antiques everywhere.


She had a twinkle in her eye and a quick wit. We miss her but have her recipes and our treasured memories.

 Her collection of brass candlesticks sat on the massive mantle over the large brick fireplace. There were hooked rugs and a harvest table resting on glazed red brick floors.

She was an excellent cook and always had little goodies like this ready when company stopped by.

If I know I’m having company, I make them ahead and freeze them. Take out a few and reheat them and they taste like they were just whipped together.

      1-cup all-purpose flour
        1-teaspoon salt
        1-teaspoon baking soda
        2 eggs beaten
        1-cup milk
        ½-stick unsalted butter, melted
        ½-cup chopped onion
        1-pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
        1 (10-ounce package) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained.

Mix flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl.
Mix eggs, milk, and butter in another bowl.
Add egg mixture to flour mixture and mix well.
Add onion, cheese and spinach. Mix well.
Spread mixture in a greased 11x8 inch pan.
Bake at 350 (375 convection) for 30-35 minutes.
Cut into squares and serve warm.


To save for later, cut in squares and put in a plastic container with waxed paper between the layers. Either freeze or keep in the refrigerator for a few days. If frozen, reheat in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Makes about 30 squares.


Monday, February 20, 2012

"HOMEMADE" SPAGHETTI



"The trouble with Italian food is that five or six days later you're hungry again." ~George Miller

Well, this isn't exactly homemade. I do make it in my own kitchen but with some help from already prepared ingredients I purchase at the grocery store. Therefore, it is easy…and quick.

I don’t think HD ever minded where it came from. He eats lots of it and always wanted it for his special birthday dinner.


HD a few years ago.
A big fresh green salad with Italian dressing and a crusty loaf of Italian garlic bread complete the meal.

You will need:
·        12” heavy skillet with lid
·        Pasta pot

Ingredients:



Spaghetti Sauce:
  •         1-pound ground beef
  •         26-ounce jar prepared Traditional Pasta Sauce
  •         1.5-ounce package dry Italian Style Spaghetti Sauce Mix
  •         6-ounce can tomato paste
  •         2-cups water
  •     Grated Parmesan or fresh shredded Mozzarella
  •         Optional: 1-tablespoon chopped garlic and/or ¼-cup chopped onions

"Most of the food allergies die under garlic and onion."~Martin H Fischer
Spaghetti pasta:
·       16-ounce package of spaghetti pasta


 One of my little hints just for you, blog followers: you will find the best pasta…and the cheapest pasta…on the bottom (or close to the bottom) shelf in the pasta section. It is the generic brand with the store label. I have to bend over (and I’m short) to get it off the shelf. It is currently $1.00 a box at most stores.

 Note: I used to always buy regular spaghetti. I don’t know if the other types have always been available or if I just discovered them a few years ago. Regular spaghetti seems too heavy now so I usually use Thin Spaghetti or Angel Hair.
Process:

Slowly brown the ground beef in the skillet on medium heat. (If you are adding the garlic and onions, put them in now.) Use a potato masher to smash the meat so that it browns evenly and is crumbly.



Add two tablespoons water to the browning meat and cover the skillet. This keeps the meat moist.

After the meat is thoroughly cooked, remove the lid.

Add the jar of pasta sauce, the dry package mix and the tomato paste to the meat.

Add the two cups water to the empty sauce jar, put the lid on it and shake it to get all the remaining sauce out of the jar.

Pour the liquid that’s in the jar into the meat and stir all ingredients together until they are mixed thoroughly.

Bring to a boil. 


        

Lower the heat to simmer and replace the lid, stirring occasionally until the pasta is ready.

Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.

EXCEPT: DO NOT ADD SALT TO THE WATER. We get enough salt in this world already.

If you plan on having a salad and bread with this meal, make your salad ahead of time and put the bowl in the fridge with a damp paper towel over the top of it.

Have the oven heated to warm the bread before you start cooking the pasta. Depending on the type of bread, see how long it will take to have it ready at the same time the pasta is ready, particularly if it is to go under the broiler.

Garlic bread can always be wrapped in foil and kept warm in the oven until the dinner is ready to be served.

One of the most difficult things about cooking is having everything ready at the same time. This is particularly true of a spaghetti meal. Planning is key! Spaghetti gets very sticky when it gets cold and it is not that easy to reheat it effectively.

If you must heat it up, put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the spaghetti pot with the heat on medium. Add the spaghetti from the strainer and sprinkle another tablespoon of olive oil over the top of the pasta. Using two forks or two wooden spoons, gently toss the pasta to evenly distribute the oil. Cover the pot and let the pasta heat up before serving.

Spaghetti sauce freezes well so it can be made ahead when you have time. Allow the sauce to thaw in refrigerator overnight the day before your dinner. An hour or so before the meal is to be served, put the sauce in a saucepan and heat to boiling, reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pan. You may have to add some water to the sauce as freezing will make it thicken up.

If you have leftover sauce and pasta after your dinner, mix it together in the pasta pot. Throw in some grated Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese, mix that in and put the mixture in a greased casserole dish. The spaghetti will break into smaller pieces as you mix it. That is good.

You can freeze the casserole for later. When ready to have it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Before baking, sprinkle some water over the top of the casserole. Then sprinkle some Italian breadcrumbs and shredded Mozzarella cheese over the top.

Bake it at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese melts and the sides are bubbling.

Buon appetito a tutti i miei amici!





Thursday, February 16, 2012

SOUR CREAM CHICKEN ENCHILADAS





SOUR CREAM CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

Serves 6 (two enchiladas per person)

You will need:
·        Medium saucepan
·        Small skillet
·        Cooking oil or shortening
·        Spray cooking oil
·        13” X 9” X 2” baking pan
·        Metal tongs
·        Small plate
·        Paper towel

Ingredients:

2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
1 can chopped green chile
1 16-ounce carton sour cream
2-cups grated longhorn cheese
1 dozen corn tortillas
1-cup chopped green onions
2-12.5-ounce cans Kirkland Premium Chunk Chicken Breast. This is the best chicken in a can that I’ve found.

Note: I prefer to cook whole chickens and clean the meat off the bones, giving the carcass to the dogs and saving the broth for soup. I acknowledge that few will go to this trouble for a dozen enchiladas. Remember that the rest of the chicken can be frozen and used for Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Taquitos, ChickenTostadas, and Chicken Enchiladas with red or green sauce, not to mention a chicken casserole or two. I have never had to throw away fresh cooked chicken. It is so much better than canned because you are getting the flavor in the dark meat mixed in with the white meat.
Process:

·        Mix together first three ingredients in a saucepan. Heat it thoroughly and don’t let it come to a boil. Leave on the stove on low and stir frequently.
·        Spray oil on inside of baking dish.
·        When the sauce is cooking and warm, spoon ½-cup sauce on bottom of baking dish and spread it around. This keeps the enchiladas from getting crispy on the bottom.
·        Have chicken, cheese and onions ready in separate bowls sitting by the stove.
·        Put ¼-cup oil in small skillet and heat on medium.
·        Dip tortillas in hot oil for a few seconds until they are soft, turning over a couple of times with metal tongs.
·        Set the softened tortillas on a small plate by stove.
·        If the tortillas have too much oil on them, use a paper towel to dab it off a little. You may have to add more oil to the skillet as you keep cooking the tortillas.
·        Stack all softened tortillas on top of each other on the plate.
·        When you have a dozen tortillas softened, start filling and rolling them one at a time, placing them, side by side, in the baking dish.
·        Fill with the following in the order given:
o      Spread a pinch of chicken on one side of the tortilla
o      Put 1-tablespoon sauce on top of chicken
o      Place some cheese on top of the sauce
o      Put a pinch of green onions on top of the cheese.

Carefully roll the filled tortilla from the filled side and place the enchiladas side by side in the baking dish.

Cover the enchiladas in the pan with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle the remainder of cheese across the top.

Bake at 350 degrees about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbling.

Serve with lettuce shreds and the rest of the chopped green onions on top.

Complete the meal with Mexican rice and refried beans.




Monday, February 13, 2012

FOR MY VALENTINE: HIS FAVORITE CHOCOLATE CAKE



In the past few days on the radio and on TV news I’ve heard Valentine’s Day referred to as “complicated” so often it got my attention.

What they are saying is “complicated” is finding someone to love and that same someone loving you back.

Well, I must agree with that.

Matchmaking has been around for centuries. It is big business today. No “news” there.

The difference between now and my dating era is that we either fell in love in high school, after we got to college or met someone after we entered the business world.

Let’s not forget the “bar scene” for finding Mr. Right. What a disastrous idea that was. Too many broken hearts left in ruin as a result of the razzle-dazzle of a night full of fun at the disco a la Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Dirty Dancing (1987).

 I wasn’t a “disco darling”…I co-owned the first disco in Tucson. A little known fact about me. What a craze it was…and lots of fun. I’m certain that many of those that met on the dance floor are still dancing through life together.

I always thought those girls who had serious relationships in high school were lucky. I thought that they had more fun than I did…always had a date for the dance after the football game…were more respectable than those of us who “dated around”…were chosen for homecoming royalty, were happier. They had a commitment.

Many of those couples that I knew from my hometown married after high school. Some went to college together and married after they graduated. Many are still married to their high school sweethearts.

I married my high school sweetheart.

I just didn’t meet him until I was 48.

He attended a high school for boys on the east coast.

I attended a co-ed high school in the Midwest.

He went to college in the northwest.

I went to college in the southwest.

But I am sure that had we been in high school together, we might have been boyfriend and girlfriend.

We are now.

Today I’m going to make his favorite chocolate cake.

He already “surprised” me with Godiva’s best truffles.

There will be cards for each other and I did get him a “surprise” also.

We get gifts for each other that we can share.

That is true love!     

Here’s the recipe. It is so-o-o easy and delicious.


Mother P's Crazy Chocolate Cake

        1½-cup flour
        1-cup sugar
        ½-cup cocoa
        1-teaspoon baking soda
        1-teaspoon baking powder
        1-teaspoon salt
        ½-cup shortening
        1-egg (can use 2 eggs)
        ½-cup milk
        ½-cup boiling water
        1-teaspoon vanilla

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix.
Bake in an 8” square pan at 350 degrees about 40 minutes.

Notes: She said, “I often uses a tube pan and bake for less time. Also, the original recipe didn’t include baking powder or the second egg and it was very good.”

Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

½-cup softened unsalted butter
1½ to 2-cups sifted powdered sugar
1/8-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
2-tablespoons milk

Process:

Beat the butter with your mixer on medium speed in a bowl until fluffy.

Add 1½ cups sifted powdered sugar, turning your mixer on low, until the sugar is mixed completely with the butter.

With mixer on medium again, add vanilla extract, salt and 1 tablespoon milk.

Beat about 3 minutes or until completely mixed together.

If the frosting is too stiff, add 1-tablespoon milk.

If the frosting is not stiff enough, add ½-cup more sugar.

Mix until just right.

Decorate to your heart’s content…sprinkles, hearts, etc.



Saturday, February 4, 2012

PEGNAMS' BUNKHOUSE RECIPE FOR ELK GRAVY

There have been “elks” (not the correct plural of this word…that would be “elk”) in my life for as long as I can remember. My dad was an “Elk”, having belonged to the Elk’s Club in my hometown in Illinois.

No real elk in Illinois.

The Elk was the mascot for the Round Valley High School where I taught in the White Mountains of Arizona. Two of my children were “Elks” as members of various sport teams.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the area is to spot a herd of elk grazing in the meadow near a highway. If you see cars parked along the side of a road you can be fairly sure that they have spotted a herd of elk in the tree line.

Many a fall evening was spent quietly sitting on the back porch of the Bunkhouse watching a herd in the meadow just a few feet away. The shrill call of a bull would echo across the meadow as he let every other bull know that this was his territory and his herd of cow elk. One night we actually witnessed two bulls fighting with their huge antlers locking and unlocking as they head-butted each other. These are wild, haunting sounds to experience.

One of my first elk memories after arriving on “the mountain” occurred during a junior high game in Round Valley. As a spectator in the gym watching my daughter play volleyball, I noticed that people started whispering to each other and one by one began leaving the gym.

I asked someone sitting near me what was going on. She said that a man named Slade had pulled up outside the gym with an elk he had just killed. Everyone had to go outside to admire it. It was a “trophy bull elk” I think she said.

This was a frequent occurrence around town in the fall season. Often, as you ate in a restaurant or were shopping at the grocery store, you would notice people going outside to look in the back of a hunter’s pick-up truck.

The ones that got the most attention, of course, were the huge bulls with the enormous racks (antlers). I often wondered how long they could drive around town with their trophy before the meat went bad. It is quite an accomplishment to be able to provide so much meat for your family. They have reason to be proud.

Son HD was drawn for elk while still a student in high school. On his particularly early morning hunt, he had killed the cow elk, field dressed it, taken it to the butcher, and still made it to school on time. We were very proud of him and enjoyed the meat from his hunt immensely.




Daughter JC…not so much.

It’s a different world to live where hunters hunt. Many people drive very big trucks covered with mud and camouflage clothing is the norm.

The local drugstore sells the usual sundries, some groceries, magazines, cosmetics, candy, cards, guns, ammo, camping gear, alcoholic beverages, and, has a pharmacy.

The process to hunt elk is intimidating and requires much patience and knowledge.

You get a hunting license, submit an application for an elk tag and wait to be drawn. You could do this over and over, year after year, and not be drawn.

After you are finally drawn for a tag, you must travel to the unit you were drawn for and camp to see if you can pinpoint an elk migration pattern.

Time to hunt! You spend a week in the woods and never see an elk.

Try again next year…or whenever.

If you are one of the lucky ones, you get your elk. Now what?

You have to hang it from a tree upside down, skin it, and get it to the butcher shop. Be sure to tell the butcher to include sausage when he processes the meat so you can make this recipe.

You will then rent a locker and are able to go to the locker to pick up your meat, as you need it. You will have elk burger, elk roasts, elk steaks and elk sausage.

If you make it this far, you will have plenty of meat to share and lots of stories to tell. A bull elk weighs about 700 pounds. A cow, 450 pounds.

For a fee of $4000 or so, you can hire a guide and he does all the work. There even could be a guarantee that you will get drawn and not only see, but also kill, an elk.

It probably seems like lots of work to have to kill an elk to get to make elk gravy…but that’s what is required.

Elk Sausage Gravy

Ingredients:

1- pound elk sausage
2-Tablespoons bacon grease (You add your own fat because elk sausage doesn’t have much fat.)
2-Tablespoons butter
½-cup chopped onion
2-Tablespoons chopped garlic
4-Tablespoons white flour
2-cups whole milk

Spices:

1-teaspoon salt
¼ -teaspoon black pepper
¼ -teaspoon white pepper
½ -teaspoon paprika
¼ -teaspoon nutmeg
Sprinkle of cayenne powder over top of mixture
2-teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Process:

To make the gravy, melt bacon grease and butter in a 12” skillet on medium heat.

Always save the bacon grease when you fry bacon. Pour it into a grease container. I have an aluminum one that has a strainer built into the top. Store that in the refrigerator until you need it later.

Add the onion, garlic and sausage to the melted bacon grease and butter.

Stir to mix it together and cook for about 10 minutes. It must be browned, crumbly and completely cooked.

Sprinkle the flour over the top of the cooked sausage in the skillet and mix it in well, stirring frequently until the flour is lightly browned and cooked, usually about 5 minutes.

The flour must be incorporated into the meat and fat or the gravy will taste like raw flour.

Pour in the milk and turn up the heat to medium-high.

Add the spices and mix in well, stirring constantly.

If it’s too thick, add more milk, a little at a time, and stir until it’s the right consistency.

If it’s too thin, sprinkle some flour over it, a little at a time, whisking it into the mixture until it thickens up.

Serve with fluffy buttermilk biscuits.

The moral of the story: You learn where your food comes from.

So many people today forget that a hamburger from McDonald’s comes from a cow.

When children are asked where their food comes from they reply that it comes from a grocery store.

What if there wasn’t a grocery store?

When I was young, my parents would buy a cow and had it butchered. The meat would be stored at the “Locker Plant” in a locker. Mother would pull up to the front door, give me a key and I would go in to retrieve what she had asked for. The meat was wrapped in white butcher paper and had a hand-written label saying, steak, roast, hamburger, etc.

I remember particularly that in the summer when I was always barefoot, I would go in and walk on the cold floors in the room where the lockers were and the frozen meat was stored. The floor felt like I was walking on sponges. It was a strange feeling.  I didn’t like it in there. The door was very heavy and had a big knob you had to push from the inside to get out. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get it open sometime and would be locked in there. Scary.

Fortunately, the “butchered cow” event still happens in our family. Two very good-looking teenage grandsons have mastered the skills of running a cattle ranch…the rounding up, roping, branding, etc. Their father’s family has been cattle ranching in Arizona for over a hundred years.

They always have lots of white-wrapped packages in their freezer that contain frozen beef from their cows that they raise and butcher.

I wonder if they could rope an elk.