Edible Antics

Touring Wisconsin Food

Category: Vegetable Side-dishes (page 2 of 2)

Wisconsin Woman Ignores Holiday Decorations And Hunting Season To Play In Woods And Cook Acorn Squash Bisque

My ever industrious, Wisconsin neighbors did not idle away the day as I did. They seized  advantage of our unseasonably warm (50’s and 60’s ?!!!!), dry weather and hung holiday decorations on their trees and houses. But the dogs and I shirked these seasonal responsibilities and instead ambled through woods and fields. We inhaled the warm, fresh air and stretched our legs on the rich, black, Wisconsin soil. Our decadent insolence lasted hours. We paused only to determine the direction of the occasional gunshots we heard and decide if we should alter our course. You see, now it’s dear hunting season in Wisconsin and thousands of hunters are also moving through the fields and perching in trees. They are intent on “bringing home the proverbial bacon” so to speak. That’s Wisconsin for you, industrious even in recreation, that is of course until the beer gets poured. But the dogs and I had no beer and were doing nothing so useful.

Upon return home, I knew I needed to amend my slacking ways and produce something of value. I chose to cook soup. Not that I am a huge fan of soup, (as I recall I was quite negative about this entire food group in a previous post). But I stumbled upon a recipe for acorn squash bisque in the Wisconsin Country Gourmet cookbook that appealed even to me. Thinking someone besides myself may have an excess of squash or perhaps want to serve soup on Thanksgiving I decided to give it my all and sweat leeks. Click on “continue reading…” for the recipe and review.

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You Say It’s Split-Pea Soup Bubbling In That Cauldron, But Show Me The Recipe

I’m not much of a soup person. I’ve made chicken soup three times in my life; the first was inedible, similar in texture and smell to well-used dish water. The second was suggestive of chicken soup and obligatorily ingested on its initial appearance at the table. The third I actually liked. My dad said he recognized that it was homemade; not sure what he meant. But my kids ate it and said they liked it after I added left-over, double-noodle Campbell’s chicken noodle soup into it. You see, I can make Campbell’s soups now. Today I understand that you have to mix a can of water in with the broth. It’s not at all like cooking casseroles with Campbell’s soups which don’t demand such unintuitive diluting.

So given my soup-making history, my children were as surprised as I when I told them the bubbling, green liquid in the cauldron on the stove stop was split-pea soup. I’d never made split-pea soup before. And since I don’t often even eat soups, I was definitely acting strangely out of character. Furthermore, when my children peered into the black pot, they noticed the shreds of pink ham separating from that large ham bone. The striations in the ham made it look so realistically like flesh from a different species. Convinced that I’d added happy-orange carrots to deceive innocents of this “soup’s” wicked purposes, the children eyed my soup-stirring movements with suspicion. They conferred on the possibility that my brew was much more devious than “split-pea soup”. To me, however, they didn’t say much as they hung the Halloween decorations; they knew better. 

But was it really split-pea soup? Click on “Continue reading…” and I’ll show you the recipe.

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Parents’ Ways To Get Kids To Eat Healthy Foods: Cheesy Topping Tricks

Many parents have figured out ways to get kids to eat healthy foods, and one common way is trickery. I won’t call it complete deceit; the meal’s healthy food is nearly always evident, just…let’s call it… unobtrusively disguised. Yes, I confess, this parent regularly tricks her children into eating healthy meat and vegetables by hiding them. The butternut squash and apple bake I described in the previous post is a good example. The healthy squash was sandwiched between a layer of apples, and a cornflake-sugar-pecan topping. Both topping and apples blended in with the squash’s vibrant orange making it less noticeable. A child might think, “Hey, if I like what’s on top and what’s on the bottom, and everything looks more or less the same, then I might like what’s in the middle.” True, savvy kids aren’t so easily fooled. They use counter-tactics such as picking and poking at their food to discover and dislodge offensive vegetables from their concealment, but parents usually get a bite or two of healthy vegetable into their children before the vegetable’s revealed.  

One easy vegetable topping which I grew up with is a mix of fine bread-crumbs toasted in butter and poured over zucchini or cauliflower. A great meatloaf disguiser is cranberry topping. My kids actually ask for this one! A friend long ago recommended burying asparagus beneath Velveeta…but in Wisconsin we can do better. My friend has a point though, cheese is the ultimate disguiser of healthy meat and vegetables. Click on “Continue reading…” for some cheesy ideas.

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Tips On How To Cook A Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner With 21st-Century Ovens

While my kids rev-up for Halloween, I’m preparing for Thanksgiving. I know, anticipation of one dinner in November’s 4Th week seems absurd, but as most of you cooks understand, Thanksgiving is the most difficult meal of the year. The Thanksgiving turkey dinner is the only meal that has a prescribed list of foods. Tradition has determined the entree, side-dishes, and desserts, and all of these compete for time to be baked in a single oven.

How did we get ourselves into this ridiculous cooking situation? I believe the fault lays with technology. In the 18th-century, meals were cooked over large hearths. A grand animal could be roasted in the center while multiple pots hung at the sides, simmering their contents. Additional foods were simultaneously baked in chambers within the hearth stone. Some of the cooking, especially the roasting, was even done outside over a woodfire. In the 19th-century, our fore-mothers cooked Thanksgiving dinner on multi-chambered woodstoves. Most women were highly adept at controlling varying heat levels in each chamber. And meanwhile the large bird may have been smoked or roasted outside.

Click on “Continue reading…” for more of the story and a great recipe for butternut squash and apple bake.

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Gender-Differences In Wisconsin Gardening Before A Killing Frost? Plus A Relish Recipe To Use Up Green Tomatoes

Something peculiar occurred in my part of the world this weekend. I wonder if it’s a statistical fluke or if there really is a gender difference in the way in which people respond to the forecast of impending winter. A common conversation-starter around here was, “I hear (heard) we’re going to have a killing frost this weekend.” And when I used this opener, my women friends all responded something like this:  “Yeah, I heard that too.”

“But I’m such a slacker; I didn’t bring my patio plants in.”

“Me neither. I’ve been so busy these past few weeks that at this point, I just don’t care about the plants any more. I’d planned to over-winter ’em, but I’m just lettin’ ’em die.”

“Yeah, me too. Instead of picking all my green tomatoes before the freeze I mended my daughter’s shirt while we watched kid-TV together. She came home Friday afternoon saying she had to dress like an insect for the school dance at 6:00 so I had to mend her yellow shirt. I hadn’t planned on slacking on the garden, but my child had to metamorphose.”

“Oh, I know how that goes. Last week I bought sale-perennials and haven’t even gotten ’em planted yet. But at least (fill in the blank name of husband) went out and picked the last of the peppers and the tomatoes. (Disappointed sigh.) Now I just have to freeze those.”

It’s that last line about the husband which is so curious. Of my friends it was the men in their lives who did the last minute harvesting. For example, my friend and I were driving home Saturday when her husband called to ask if I wanted a stalk of their garden Brussels sprouts. He’d busied himself picking squash and digging onions while we’d blown the whole garden bit off to take an autumn walk with another woman friend who likewise was blowing off her garden. And I have more friends than these; my other women friends were similarly un-engaged with they’re gardens. What was going on? Click on “continue reading…”for my hypothesis.

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Kitchen Ingredient Home Remedies To Remove Skunk Odor From Dogs; Plus A Carrot Salad Recipe

Yesterday Dr. Sandra Sawchuk of the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Teaching Hospital gave me a home remedy recipe for removing skunk odor from dogs. The recipe calls for ordinary kitchen ingredients, is easy to mix, and highly explosive (if stored improperly). Precisely because it is so explosive when sealed in a closed container it is not easily marketed in pet stores. But Dr. Sawchuk swears it works. Her assisting resident questioned if the peroxide ingredient would bleach the pet’s hair. Dr. Sawchuk wasn’t sure but didn’t think so. And what’s worse, skunk odor or bleach blond hair? Here’s the recipe:

Mix: 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid soap (hand or dish soap). Instructions: Bathe animal in ordinary pet shampoo and rinse. Pour on skunk-off mixture and leave to air dry.

I haven’t tried this skunk odor remedy yet. In the past I’ve fallen back on the traditional recipe for removing skunk spray. If you’re curious about this older recipe, why I used it and want a cold carrot salad recipe that smells a whole lot better than skunk and wet dog, click on “Continue reading…”.

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Cooking Chicken And Cornbread, – Or Is It Chicken With Rice, Beans, Or Potatoes?

A long time ago I read a biography of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis in which Miles told the story about his frustrations with Charlie Parker at supper time. My memory is sketchy on the details, but the gist was that at the time Miles was with a woman who was an excellent cook and made the very best fried chicken and corn bread. Charlie Parker loved fried chicken and corn bread and had a special E.S.P. regarding when the Davis’s would be having it for dinner. On those nights, Parker would arrive at supper time, exploit the rules of courtesy to get himself a seat at the table, sit down, and eat up all the Davis’s fried chicken and cornbread.This put Mile’s nose of of joint because he favored chicken and cornbread too, and with Parker around, there was so much less for him. For some reason this story has stuck with me, and I began to serve cornbread with my chicken.

I don’t remember having cornbread with chicken much when I was a kid. As I recall, we usually ate rice with our chicken. It was plain, white rice, – actually it was instant rice. That meant it was extra fluffy, kind of like the white Wonder bread we ate at lunch.Those were the days. When we’d go out to family restaurants, typically chicken dinners came with mashed potatoes and gravy. And if by some chance we went to some place really fancy, the chicken was served with wild rice. When we were out west in Colorado, chicken often came with beans, those starchy red kidney beans in a sauce that could be sweet, or not. I didn’t fancy beans too much. I still don’t.

That Charlie Parker story converted me to preferring cornbread with my chicken. And I finally found an excellent cornbread recipe. Oh, I’ve been baking cornbread for decades. It’s fast and easy, and if you bake it with buttermilk it’s absolutely delicious. But last week I baked cornbread according to Donna Weihofen’s recipe which calls for whole corn added to the batter. Perhaps you already knew this secret for making great cornbread, but it was a revelation to me. I served it with tomato curry chicken and it made the meal! Click on “continue reading…” for the cornbread recipe.

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Like Beer And Want To Eat Healthy Too? How To Cook Kale In Beer

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. It fights cancer; it’s an anti-oxidant; it helps the bones, the eyes, the skin, the immune and digestive systems. Just name about any part of the human body and kale will help it. So moral of the story: eat kale, feel good, live long.

beer-kale-1 Kale is related to cabbage, and it’s one of those dark green, leafy vegetables that are often generically referred to as “greens”. But even some of the folks who know what kale is don’t like the taste of it. They say it tastes bitter. But I think they just ate “old kale”.  Fresh kale is tender and slightly sweet. It tastes too much like fresh air and warm sunshine to cause any dislike. (My kids disagree, but I’m not listening. They don’t like beer either which is a good thing of course at their age. But I certainly wouldn’t consider their opinion about which Wisconsin micro-brew to drink, so their juvenile opinion about kale I easily disregard.)  

But for those of us who appreciate good beer and fresh vegetables, here is a recipe for sauteed kale. The kale is sauteed in beer. It comes from the cookbook: Drink Your Beer And Eat It Too by Joanie Steckart. Her recipe is fast and easy to make. Click on “Continue reading…” for the recipe.

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Unusual Dessert Zucchini Recipe: Wisconsin Farmers and Gardeners Bake Zucchini Pie

This time of August a Wisconsin gardener typically has as many zucchinis as a mule has flies. Zucchini has been steamed, boiled, grilled, baked into breads and casseroles, and still, free-for-the-taking zucchinis languish on office break-room tables. Even some food pantry workers sigh when they see more zucchini arrive. What to do with all that zucchini?

I have only 4 zucchini plants, which although I’m a firm believer in ‘waste not – want not, are producing about 50% more zucchini than I want. For two weeks, I’ve brought zucchini to the table in a variety of recipe forms. Fortunately, zucchini is one vegetable that my kids eat without complaining, but at this point I’m using up my zucchini capital. I needed an unusual zucchini recipe to re-spark our taste for this prolific, green squash.

Searching through cookbooks, I noticed that my cookbooks written by Wisconsin farm women  had more zucchini recipes than the others. I wasn’t surprised. But I was intrigued by the re-occurrence of one unusual recipe: a recipe for zucchini pie. I guess it makes sense. Wisconsin farm women typically have large gardens. They grow a lot of food and are not about to waste it. If they grow it, by gosh, their family is going to eat it and be thankful. But even these stoic women run out of patience with zucchini. Desperate to find one more way to transfer zucchini from the crisper into their children’s stomachs, they invented zucchini pie. Oh, it’s not much of an invention really, more of a modification. To make zucchini pie, all you do is bake an apple pie, but substitute zucchini for the apples.

“Yuk!” you exclaim? No, not really. My family liked it. Admittedly, it wasn’t as good as apple pie, but it was a bit more nutritious, and far easier to make. Plus, the recipe calls for “one LARGE zucchini”. So if you just found one of those monster zucchinis that’s been growing hidden under a leaf for far too long in your garden, this recipe for zucchini pie is the one you need. Click on “Continue reading…” for the recipe for zucchini pie and pictures of our cow tea party at which we ate a zucchini cheese pie for dinner and our zucchini pie for dessert.

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Outdoor Party Food That Won’t Spoil At A Picnic – Recipe for Sweet Potato Salad

Sunday, August 2, is Friendship Day. An outdoor party with friends is the best recipe for fun. But even in a group of best friends, all is not fair. Here’s a brief account of how on this friendship outing to a picnic I got the short end of the straw and lengthened it.

“Let’s go for a picnic at the lake! We’ll go hiking and swimming!” my friends rallied. “We’ll have a pot-luck picnic at the park!” went the cheer. “We’ll bring brats and buns,” one couple volunteered.”

“We’ll bring dessert and sodas!” other friends added.

I was slow and left to offer, “I’ll bring the sides.” Yes, I was to bring some Herculean, vegetable side-dish that could hold up in flavor and appearance while keeping bacteria at bay for the length of a summer day. What picnic food can be driven for an hour, stay in a car for 3 hours, sit on a picnic table for 4 hours and still be edible? Isn’t this asking a lot of a vegetable? – at least one that tastes good? How about potato chips? Everybody likes them. Definitely bring the potato chips.

But I know these adults. They like “healthy food”, which means to say that on the picnic plate beside the brat on a fluffy white roll has to be a healthy, vegetable side-dish that does not pour from a bag, – a deli carton okay, but not from a bag. But at a picnic I’d have to nix the traditional coleslaws and potato salads – they have mayonnaise in them. Nix the oil and vinegar lettuce salads, they get limp and soggy, and my kids don’t like them anyway. – Oh yes, there’s that hidden requirement, – kids have to like the food too.

So for this all-day, outdoor party I chose a recipe for sweet potato salad. My kids like sweet potatoes and this potato salad is sweetened with honey, – definitely a kid-friendly substance. And as sweeteners go, honey is healthy. Honey contains natural anti-bacterial compounds; that’s why honey doesn’t spoil in the hive. If those picnic table germs aren’t scared off by the honey, the acids from the vinegar and lemon juice in this potato salad will pickle them! Yes, folks, here’s a delicious, kid-friendly potato salad without mayonnaise! It can travel to a distant park, hang out on a picnic table and not spoil for the rest of the day. (Three days may be pushing it.) This potato salad even looks pretty. The dressing turns the sweet potatoes vibrant orange, and the green onions and diced red pepper add colorful accents. Click on “Continue reading…” for the recipe.

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