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Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Tips and Cooking ideas

I love to put recipes together in the summer. There is a lot of variety everywhere, and it's fun to get out to farmers markets and out of town food coops and organic food stores. Sometimes one ingredient gives me a great idea. Tonight, I used some salmon filets I bought for $1 each frozen. I looked up a recipe online, which was free, relatively. I found a couple I liked, and printed them. I love cookbooks and collecting recipes, too. What I don't use right away, I put in albums, my "scrapbook" cookbooks, in recipe boxes, in our school cookbook. My students' club at school collects all kinds of recipes and craft ideas for cookbooks we give away as promotions or sell in silent auction theme baskets. My love affair with recipes goes hand in hand with my love of paper dolls, scrapbooks, and ephemera. I used to cut pictures of fancy food out of holiday catalogs featuring cheese logs and tortes. I glued them to round paper plates made from white paper I recycled as doll food. My mom cut food and fruits from the grocery ads to use as flash cards in Spanish class. These were economical, useful, and thrifty. They saved money and paper and were fun to make. Soon, I graduated to looking for recipes to use for my home ec recipe box, decoupaged with the same photos I liked to use for doll food. I also got ideas to make miniature doll house food and dishes from playdough from these magazines and catalogs. My mom saved me recipes from Pari Match and the Spanish Telva, which are just great, and help you practice foreign language skills. I kept these, too, and my favorite cook book is the big, unwieldy scrapbook of recipes from my mom, grandma, aunts, friends, and my own Spanish teacher.

Tonight, I baked the fish in a broth of 7 oz. dried Italian dressing mix, water, and lemon juice. I added onions and chopped, fresh cilantro that I kept as a bouquet in a glass in the fridge. I sliced up what was left of the organic lemon I bought on Tuesday, and which I used for three meals total. I baked the salmon in it for thirty minutes. It was really good,and mild but flavorful.

For tomorrow night, I took a fifty cent sopa de fideo [Mexican angel hair soup mix] and prepared it with four cups of water as directed. Before I added water and the mix, I sauted chopped onion and chopped fresh cilantro in two tablesppons real butter and a teaspoon of olive oil. I added the soup mix and water, and let it boil rapidly. Then I added marrow bones and let them cook, and then reduced everything to a simmer. I finally added some pre-cooked organic rotelli pasta. The onion I bought for less than fifty cents gave me ingredients for three dishes, and the soup and bones with the onion and other things I had on hand cost around $3.00 for fourservings.

Dessert was fun, too. I made Gothic berry parfaits with fresh blackberries that were on sale at our local Target super market. I layered organic blueberry, sweetened plain Greek organic yogurt, and berries in alternating layers. I topped the parfaits with whipped topping. The garnish was a sprinkle of sugar, topped with pomegranite flavored dried cranberry. I used our red plastic skull goblets, Halloween favorites that I just had to take out. The meal was fun and easy.

I find that I can use what is in the fridge or pantry and add a few basic ingredients as needed. To save time, I've made sandwich loaf with fresh tuna and egg salad from the local deli, and used whipped cream cheese to frost my bread. My family loves it. I saved the broth from the fish, which also had mushrooms; I'm going to try to make a seafood bisque or cioppino of sorts with it. The good things is you can make these dishes as expensive or inexpensive as you like by visiting local stores and seeing what is on sale. Also, note that most frozen seafood has not been affected by the Gulf disaster, and also canned or jarred fish works well.

I have also been cleaning at work, and donating books to our school library, recycling paper, recycling paper clips, notebooks, even postit notes. I'm famous for these, and keep them in three ring spiral notebooks according to topic, labelled and dated if I take them out of books. They are instant flash cards.

Outside, I am battling raccoons and other critters who come at night, dig in pots, unpot my plants, remove the miniatures from my terrarium scenes, and scatter my potting soil. The dried blood is apparently like a seasoning for them. The nerve. My pumpkins, in three locations, are coming up,and one is a wild plant. I get great satisfaction out of making pumpkin soup from them, just as I will make pasta sauce with our tomatoes when they are ready.

Finally, my last green tip tonight is to encourage everyone to find time to read, to visit the library or a library sale, to sew, knit, craft, paint, walk, write music or do whatever it is that is free for you, but that comprises free time and quiet time. The storms have passed for now, the humidity is down, and it is peaceful. I wish you all joy and above all, peace, till next time.

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