Wednesday, February 27, 2013



I recently attended a demonstration given by a chef from Grand Rapids Community College.  One of the recipes that she stared with the audience was Chef's Salt.  Her Chef's Salt is very basic and very convenient.  It contains salt, black pepper, and granulated garlic. 

Ingredients:  Salt, black pepper, and granulated garlic.

In case you have had a melt down in the math portion of your brain, the recipe can be 2 tablespoons of salt to 1 tablespoon each black pepper and granulated garlic or 2 cups salt and 1 cup each black pepper and granulated garlic.


In a clean container, add salt.


Than add black pepper.

Add granulated garlic to mixture.
Put a lid on the container and shake well to mix.  Use on meat, vegetables, salads, and casseroles.
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


There have been many advances in growing tomatoes for the winter market, but the wonderful tomato flavor is just lacking in any tomatoes I find at the market in the winter.  The tomatoes may look and feel like they are going to be a flavorful tomato.  After the first bite, you know it looked good, but it is flavorless.

Last fall my friends and I were invited by Gerald Leffring of Waddell-Reed in Muskegon to a party celebrating Irish Music.  It was there I had the idea to roast or grill tomatoes during the winter.  The caterer had made small "slider" type sandwiches.  The tomatoes in the cold sandwiches had been grilled.  I thought what a wonderful idea and wanted to share it with you.

Grilling the tomatoes removes some the liquid in the tomato and therefore concentrating the tomato flavor.   The grilling also caramelized some of the sugar in the tomatoes which adds flavor too.


Ingredients:  Olive oil, tomatoes.
Slice tomatoes.
 Put olive oil on a grill or in a heavy fry pan.  Lay slices of tomato in the olive oil.  Cook, roast, or grill until the tomato liquid has been concentrated into the tomato. 

I put the tomatoes on my turkey sandwich.
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!


Monday, February 25, 2013


Numb, (noonya) beans are a heirloom bean sold at the farmer's markets around Western Michigan by the Shady Side Farm in Holland, Michigan.  The bean is from the high attitudes of the Andes Mountains.  The are not like regular beans which are cooked in hot water, they are roasted and pop something like popcorn.  They are perfect for high altitude  cooking because cooking with hot water is difficult and slow as water boils at a lower temperature high in the mountains so cooking takes much longer.  It also takes less fuel to roast beans than cook them which in high altitudes where wood is scarce is also a plus.

Nuna beans are very versatile.  When the beans are roasted they can be seasoned with just salt, salt and pepper, garlic, Parmesan cheese, chili powder, or whatever seasoning appeals at the moment.  They can be served as a snack like peanuts or popcorn.  I like them in my salads.  They are also good in soups.


Put the beans in a bowl and soak overnight.  Drain the beans in a colander or strainer.  Put a film of olive oil in and bottom of a heavy pan.  Season them with salt now or wait until after they are popped.   Add the drained beans and stir until there is a popping sound.  Nunas do not pop out of the pan like popcorn.  Place the popped beans on a sheet of paper towel to absorb any excess oil.  Sprinkle on seasonings while the beans are still hot.   

Put the raw beans in a bowl and cover with cold water.  Let set overnight.

Drain the water from the beans.

Place a thin layer of oil in a heavy pan.  Add the beans.  Stir the beans or shake the pan while the beans roast so they don't burn.  Listen for a popping sound.

Place the beans on a layer of paper towel to remove excess oil.  Sprinkle on seasoning of choice while the beans are still hot.

 In a pan which has a cover,
 place some olive oil and seasoning in the pan.
 Add soaked and drained beans.
 Cover the pan and shake the pan over the heat until there is a slight popping noise.
 Further season the beans if desired.

Drain on paper towels.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!


Sunday, February 24, 2013


Tom has been making his vegetable beef soup for years.  Tom is the father of my "adopted" daughter, Dede.  Dede and her children love this soup as do I.  However, when ever Tom was asked for his recipe he said he didn't have one.  He just threw the soup together. 

Dede and I both know that if family recipes aren't written down, they can suddenly be lost forever.  Dede and her brothers have never been able to duplicate their late Mom's Potato Salad. 

Dede kept asking for a recipe and her Dad's reply was always the same.  "I don't have one."

A few years ago, Dede and I insisted he write down what he puts into his soup.  We told him that if he didn't, we would barricade US 31, the highway he takes to get to Florida in the winter.  Threats are sometime needed to preserve a family's cooking legacy.


To make the soup even easier, used a couple of cans of carrots and a can of potatoes.

1 to 1 ½ lb. beef stew meat
7 bouillon cubes
8 c water
2 medium onions, diced
2 stalks of celery plus some of the heart, diced
1 lb. carrots, 3 to 4 large carrots, sliced
3 to 4 medium potatoes, diced
1 can (16oz) green beans, drain ½ way
1 can (16oz) corn, drain ½ way
1 can (16oz) peas, drain ½ way
2 cans (16oz) diced tomatoes with juice

Ingredients:  Beef stew meat, diced tomatoes, beef bouillon, carrots, onions, celery, corn, green beans, potatoes, salt and pepper. 
To the soup I like to add some beef broth for part of the water, drained dark red kidney beans, chopped red bell pepper, and Lima beans.

Put water in large soup pot.  Add bouillon cubes, onions and celery.  Boil for 20 minutes.  Brown meat in a separate pan.  Heavily sprinkle black pepper on both sides of the meat.  Put meat in soup pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer while cutting up carrots, potatoes and opening cans of vegetables.  Add all ingredients to soup and simmer for a couple of hours.  Serve with crackers.

I cut the stew beef in small cubes.

Chop celery, carrots, and onions.


 Onions, carrots and celery are ready for the soup pot.

Water and beef bouillon.

Soup with bouillon, water, and chopped vegetables.
Brown meat in a hot pan.  Do not over crowd the pieces as the meat will steam and not brown.

Sprinkle black pepper on all sides of the meat.

Put meat into soup pot.  Use some hot water to get the brown goodness off of the bottom of the pan.  Add to soup.

Drain the kidney beans.

Chop potatoes, red bell pepper, and carrots.

Open the cans of vegetables and add them to the soup pot.

Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat is tender. 

Soup almost done.

Remove some broth from soup.  Taste for seasoning.  Adjust seasoning to your taste.


Enjoy, enjoy and write your family's recipes down for the next generation. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Once or twice a year someone in the Richardson-Ortez family gets hungry for egg rolls.  They don't go to a store or a restaurant to cure their craving.  They use their craving to organize a family get together. 
 A family that rolls together can create mountains.
I grew up with a family who cooked together especially at Christmas cookie time and the big summer Sunday meals.  None of my family nowadays enjoys cooking together so the Richards-Ortez family invited me to join them when they made egg rolls.  They may ask me, not out of the goodness of their heart but, because I will always volunteer to chop the onions.
Millie and Rod have the cooking parties in their historical home in Muskegon.  The egg rolls have a Parisian flavor because Millie and Rod have spent a great deal of time in France.  They use to go at least once a year.  They were married in France and spent a month honeymoon going from one French castle to another.  Rod use to tell Tom that he should have talked to Rod before Tom planned our honeymoon.  Tom invited his sister and brother-in-law on our honeymoon to Sleeping Bear Dunes.
This recipe is from Millie and Rod Richardson.
19 chicken breasts, simmered
2 bunches of celery, chopped
6 bunches of green onions, chopped
8 - 10 cans bean sprout, drained
3 bottles red wine
3 (15oz) bottles soy sauce
Sugar for stir frying
Oil for stir frying
Little salt for stir frying
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
18 to 20 pkgs. egg roll skins (12 to pkg)

Egg white for sealing wrappers 
Simmer the chicken in water or broth until cooked. Remove from bone and discard skin.  Chop chicken into small pieces. Clean and chop the celery and green onions.  Drain the bean sprouts and stir fry with a little salt.  Stir fry the celery with three teaspoons of sugar.  Stir fry the green onions with a little salt.  Put all the stir fried vegetables in a large pot or bowl or use two bowls/pots.  Add soy sauce to vegetables.  Add wine to vegetables to cover.   Stir fry the chopped chicken with a little sugar and salt.  Add chicken to vegetable mixture.  Add more wine to cover if necessary.  Let it marinate for a little while.  When ready to roll the egg rolls, put the chicken/vegetable mixture in a colander to drain.  I think the easiest way to roll an egg roll is to put the egg roll skin in front of you so it looks like a diamond-shape.  Put filling from one side corner to the other side corner.  Fold up the point of the egg roll skin nearest you over the filling.  Fold in side points over bottom point.  Put egg white on the edges of the top point.  Roll egg roll up over the top point and press on the edges to seal top point to the egg roll.  Fry in batches in 375 degree F. oil.  When skin is brown, remove egg roll and place on absorbent paper.
Wash the green onions and celery.

After green onions and celery are clean, finely chop them.

After the chicken is simmered until done, remove the skin and bones then finely chop.

Drain and rinse the canned bean sprouts.

One of the bottles of wine used in the egg rolls, a sweet concord wine.

Add a little oil to a skillet and stir-fry the bean sprout in batches adding a little salt to each batch.

In another skillet, add some oil and stir fry the celery with 3 teaspoons of sugar.

Stir fry the green onions with a little oil and a teaspoon of salt.

Stir fry the chopped chicken with a little oil, sugar, and salt.

In a large pot or bowl, combine the chicken, beansprouts, green onions, and celery.  Add the soy sauce.  Add more wine.  Ron used a rose wine and a red wine.

One bowl of ingredients ready to be made into egg rolls.  You may have to use more than one bowl or a big pot.

Pouring soy sauce into a second mixing container.

Separate the egg yolk from the white.  Use the white to "glue" the egg roll edges together.

Remove the egg roll filling ingredients from the soy sauce/wine marinade.  Place the filling ingredients in a colander to drain.

Now the fun begins, the rolling of the egg rolls.

The women in the family gather around the dishes of egg white to start making the egg rolls.  A little wine may have been involved.
Place some drained egg roll filling on the egg roll skin.

Ready to fold and roll.

Fold one corner of the egg roll skin up over the filling.

Fold in the corners of the egg roll skin over the first corner folded over the filling.

Brush the remaining corner's edge with egg white.  The egg white is the glue to hold the corner to the egg roll.

Roll the egg roll up over the remaining corner.  Press lightly to stick the corner to the roll.

Meanwhile, the men of the family are out preparing the oil for frying in a turkey fryer.  The oil temperature should be 375 degrees F.

Place egg rolls one at a time into the oil to prevent the oil from spattering.  Do not over crowd the fryer as this lowers the temperature of the hot oil.

Remove egg rolls from the oil after they are browned.  Place rolls on paper-lined trays to drain.

Trays of prepared egg rolls.

Fried egg rolls draining on paper.

Lots of good conversation and laughs while the egg rolls are rolled.

Rod has to give some advice to the women.

The women are done.  Time to clean up.

Millie dislikes having her picture taken as much as I do.  Therefore since I was able to get two pictures of her, I am posting both of them.

Millie helping with preparation.  The family that rolls together has a lot of fun.
The aftermath of cooking.

One of the trays of fried egg rolls.

The fried rice Millie purchased to serve with the egg rolls.  Next time I am invited I will volunteer to bring my famous fried rice.

Ready to eat!!!

Serve the egg rolls with Chinese Mustard and Sweet/Sour Sauce.  Recipes follow.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!

3/4 c pineapple juice or water
1 T cornstarch
1 T ketchup
1 T soy sauce
4 T sugar
4 T red wine vinegar
Few drops of Tabasco, be generous

Ingredients:  Ketchup, red wine vinegar, pineapple juice, sugar, Tabasco sauce, cornstarch and soy sauce.  Aloha Shoyu Sauce is available from Amazon.com.
Combine the ingredients in a saucepan.  Stir or whisk well.  Over medium heat stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.  Turn down heat, and simmer, while stirring, until the sauce has thickened.  Chill if desired.


Combine ingredients in a saucepan.  Over medium heat stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.  Turn down the heat, simmer until thickened stirring constantly.

Chill thickened sauce if desired.  Serve with egg rolls and enjoy!!!

Ingredients:  Dry mustard powder, and water.
Put some mustard powder in a bowl.  Amount depends on how much sauce you want.  Gradually add water, stirring to combine, until there is a sauce like mixture.   Be Very Careful as this mustard is HOT!
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!
To the Richardson-Ortez family, thank you for inviting me to your family party.