Cream of Brocolli Soup ~ on a cold Florida day

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I’ve attempted posting recipes with moderate success. That’s because I don’t cook with a recipe. I’ve tried measuring a 1/2 C of such and so and typing that in the blog article next to the photo, but then as it cooks, I say to myself, “Self, that doesn’t look right,” and I throw in some more. So, how much of that ingredient did I use? I don’t know!!! Just enough to taste good. I taste as I cook, look at the colors of the ingredients, and smell the aromas to know. Do I make mistakes? YES, but all cooks make them, and you can make a mistake following a recipe to the letter. Trust me on that one.

So, It was in the low 40s last night in northeastern coastal Florida. I had to bundle Sophie the Wonder Dog up when I took her for her morning walk. Not to mention, I actually put on a pair of socks, and I never wear socks. May I digress…I was without socks yesterday at the Post Office to mail a Christmas gift. I noticed roughly half the women were in jeans, a sweat shirt and a hoodie or jeans and a heavy cable knit sweater, and over-sized clunky sandals (not the dainty, pretty kind you see all summer) with socks on. This is Florida in winter.

Sophie Winter Coat 2011

Well then, after Sophie, the cats, and I had breakfast, I realized I had a small container of half ‘n half in the refrigerator I had to use. Now, my doctor just reminded me I’d put on weight since my last visit three months ago (Thanksgiving will do that) and my blood pressure had gone up. No alarm siren, but it had gone up. So, I wanted to use the half ‘n half, but not in a super high-cal way

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Light bulb moment…cream of broccoli soup. So, I cut my broccoli florets up into soup-spoon size pieces and covered them with water in the pot and started them simmering on a medium heat? How much water? Enough to cover them. I had red onion (I always do), carrots, and two white potatoes. So, I chopped those up and threw them in. Added parsley flakes, garlic powder, a couple of bay leaves, some jarred seasoned vegetable base, and pepper. (I put some base in, tasted and put some more in…so don’t even think about asking me how much.) No salt. Remember my blood pressure had just gone up. Besides, the veggie base has salt.

I tasted it as it simmered and added more pepper and lowered the heat to low-medium. If I’m cooking only for myself, I taste with the same teaspoon. If I’m cooking for others, I go through all my teaspoons. After about twenty minutes, I tasted again and wanted to thicken it. I often have some Campbell’s turkey gravy on hand and did this time. I added some by eye, stirred and tasted, and added some more. I let it simmer again on low to have the gravy kind of amalgamate with the other flavors. Then I tasted and turned it off. When it cooled off substantially, I added the entire container of half ‘n half, stirred, and tasted. Very good, but it had to cook with the half ‘n half just a bit. Besides it had cooled too much, so I turned on the heat to low and got it to an edible temp. Then I scooped it into a bowl, sprinkled on mozzarella cheese I had on hand and some Parm/Romano… and then I sat down to eat lunch. Good, very good.

I cook by the seat of the pants, and I write by the seat of the pants.

 

Walking the Dog ~ a good thing

 

Sophie Winter Coat 2011
Sophie The Wonder Dog

 

I’m not really on a ‘walking the dog weight loss plan,’ but doing just that has bumped-up my metabolism and increased the rate of my weight loss. Four years ago, when I started regularly walking Sophie, I wasn’t thinking of obtaining any health benefits or losing weight, I just thought it would be nice to get out and walk in good weather instead of letting her out in the backyard to do her business. Surprise! Surprise! I’d been stuck on a weight loss plateau, unable to go below a certain weight, and walking the dog busted right through that. The weight started coming off again.

Since then, my ears perked up every time ‘walking’ was mentioned on a lifestyle TV show. Lo, and behold, it’s considered to be one of the best, if not the best exercise for longterm health. I walk three-quarters of a mile twice a day, every day…or a mile and a half. It’s changed and improved my overall physical health.

The Mayo Clinic says a regular, brisk walks can help maintain a healthy weight, prevent or manage various conditions including heart disease and high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, strengthen bones and muscles, improve mood, improve balance and coordination. I take easy walks, although at times Sophie and I will take a short run. Very short. Trust me. When I first did that, four years ago, I was winded after the sprint. Now I can easily trot along for short distances, and Sophie loves the run.

There is no downside to this. If you have a dog, I urge you to walk your canine friend. It will do you both a world of good. If you don’t have a dog, but have a spouse, child, grandchild, or friend to take along get out and give walking a try…or take a camera and take interesting shots as you go along. 

   Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? ~  1 Corinthians 3:16 [NASB]

 

Excellence of Strawberries ~ killing belly fat is murder

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Titania waiting to get a few slurps of milk at the bottom of the bowl when I finish breakfast

I’m still getting beautiful, organic strawberries for my Cheerios. I go outside and pick a handful every two to three days for my “heart smart” cereal.

I purchased a couple of strawberry plants at Home Depot several years ago and planted them in a large container which lives on my deck. They come up every year giving me fruit. I douse them with organic fertilizer a few times during the growing season, water a lot,  and that’s it.

This year I’ve gotten a bounty in not only strawberries, but also tomatoes and sweet peppers. I think it’s because we’ve had a lot of rain…and I do keep up with watering every evening.

Real strawberries the way God made them are much smaller than the ones in the supermarket, or even at the farmer’s market. But they’re delish and healthy, have no pesticides, and have very few calories and carbs. A few health blogs have dubbed strawberries “the world’s healthiest food.” Research indicates strawberries help to burn stored fat. Yippee! They’re said to ease inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Another claim is they boost short term memory. Really? Oh, I almost forgot that one.

Sauteed Fish ~ killing belly fat is murder

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“Baked fish again! That’s so boring,” ~ is the dieter’s lament, but it doesn’t have to be a breaded fish fry either. If you’ve cut waaay down on starch and carbs it’s essential to stay away from the dredging flour and bread crumbs.

Even if you’re not watching your waistline, it’s a good thing for every cook to have a basic sauteed fish recipe in their arsenal.

If I were to make a literary comparison, this would be a sub-genre, rather than a specific story.

  • Fish
  • Pan Fried Fish
  • Sauteed Fish

Rather than a specific recipe, it’s a way to cook no starch, low carb sauteed fish. If you’re like me, every time you make it, the dish will be slightly different. This depends upon your whim and what ingredients you have on hand.

You want flavor, so the first step is to saute some veggies and garlic. I took a small tomato chopped coarsely, two sliced cloves of garlic, and 1/8 to 1/4 C coarsely chopped red onion. Saute until tender in olive oil or canola oil. I stirred in a handful of fresh basil leaves. [But, you could just as easily add some coarsely chopped red, orange, or yellow sweet pepper, or use oregano instead of basil. Or anything else you’ve got on hand.]

I have a secret seasoning (so please don’t tell anyone). I use an old Mrs. Dash shaker and mix together 1 Tbs garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp celery salt, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1/8 tsp chili powder. I love garlic, but if you don’t, when you saute the veggies, use one fresh sliced clove of garlic instead of two.

Sprinkle the secret seasoning to taste (here after called SS) on one side of four average size fish fillets. I often used flounder. Turn that side down in the pan. Do this with all four fillets. Make sure the heat is on medium to medium low, so you don’t burn the fish. Make sure you have enough oil so that you don’t burn the fish, but it shouldn’t be swimming. [Get it…fish swimming. Just a wee bit of humor, very wee.]

Sprinkle SS on the other side of the fish while they are in the pan. It only takes a minute of two for the fish to cook. Turn them once and cook another two minutes. Handle as little as possible, or the fillets will fall apart.

I arranged all four fillets on a plate for the photo, but when I serve I use a spatula and place two fillets on a plate, serving two people. Obviously the recipe is easily doubled or tripled. I serve this with steamed broccoli or with a fresh garden salad.

This is a recipe my heroine Veronica Ingels, gal PI, would like. As my contemporary series progresses, she gets more and more into healthy eating (all while hunting bad guys). However, this dish is good for anyone, but is especially good for those of us in mid-life who are heart-smart and waist conscious.