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Farmers Market Collage

I love going to the farmers markets around town. My favorite is the one on Sunday.

It’s not the biggest, but it feels the most familiar to me.

I love the idea of supporting local growers.

I love buying fresh organic produce.

I love looking at all the produce heaped on tables. The colors blow my mind.

Fall is one of the best times for mind-blowing color.

I took these photos on Sunday.

I had a long discussion with the man who grew all those glorious peppers. He helped me pick just the right mix for a tomatillo salsa I’m making. I’m telling you this guy knows his peppers.

I’ll let you know how the salsa turns out. I’m making it today.

Time for Tuesday Beauty

red-tomatoes

Sometimes when my spirit needs a little boost, I head to the produce section of the grocery store. I am crazy in love with the colors of fruit and veggies.

Bright, bold, and gorgeous!

Look at these tomatoes. OMG, I want a dress that color.

And have you noticed carrots? I mean really noticed them.

Their orange simply thrills me.

What perks you up when you need a little oomph?

I know not everyone is as excited about produce as I am, but there is something that energizes you.

Do tell.

We live in a beautiful world!

Lukas-wagon

We were in Kansas this past weekend, hanging out with our adorable grandson and his parents. (Also adorable.)

 

On the way back to Colorado, we stopped in Salina to visit an historic little hole in the wall restaurant called The Cozy Inn.

Cozy-Inn

This place is most definitely a burger joint. No other term works. It’s been in business, dishing up sliders (never with cheese, no sir, not even an option) since 1922.

Back then the burgers cost a nickel.

It was great.

Tiny little place where they cook the burgers right by the ten or so stools where the customers sit.

Super friendly staff.

Loyal customers. “This your first time at the Cozy Inn? You’re in for a treat.”

When we said we were from Colorado, one man chuckled and said, “You’ll have the scent of the Cozy Inn to keep you company all the way home.”

He was right on that front.

Now days later, when I slip on my jacket, I am transported back to the Cozy Inn. No offense, but I think it’s laundry time.

The burgers were delicious – tender and flavorful.

The staff won’t ring you up until you know for sure that you’re finished. They’ll just keep scooping sliders off the grill and placing them in front of you, until you say, “No more.”

Since we knew we still had a long drive ahead of us, we were quite sensible.

I had the kiddie order – two burgers, a bag of chips and a drink. My hubs had four.

See what I mean? Sensible. “Most folks eat at least six or eight,” we were told.

Okay, for us that would NOT be a good idea.

 

This was a treat. It reminded me yet again of the value of getting off the interstate once in a while and investigating the world around us. It’s so easy to just whiz past the towns, never really seeing what’s there.

It’s the journey and not the destination that matters.

I don’t know who first said that, but it feels important and profound.

Again.

Every time I hear it, I think the same thing.

Funny how we need so many reminders to be present to our life.

Time for Tuesday Beauty

I come by my love of red, ripe tomatoes honestly.

I remember my parents carrying brown paper bags of ripe tomatoes in the trunk of their car all the way from Kansas to Wyoming. (Wyoming isn’t known for it’s tomatoes but Kansas is another story!)

I’m a purist – big fat slices of juicy ripe tomatoes sprinkled with a little salt. Nothing else

Heaven! Pure Heaven…

 

How do you like your tomatoes?

We live in a beautiful world!

Over a year ago, I bared my soul to you and confessed that I have an otherworldly fondness for red licorice Twizzlers. Not an ounce of redeeming nutrition in them, but quite tasty all the same.

I even gave my sister credit for introducing us.

“Jean, I’d like you to meet Twizzlers. And Twizzlers, this is my sister Jean. I know the two of you are going to get on famously.”

Well I don’t think she’s said the word famously ever in her life, but otherwise, it kinda, sorta went down like that.

Fast forward to August last summer when my wonderful, amazing son was visiting. In a scenario worthy of a television sitcom, we each pulled out a small birthday gift for the other.

You guessed it – a bag of Twizzlers.

Turns out he likes the red twisty licorice as much as I do. There has to be a genetic link here somewhere – my sister, me, and now my son, all licorice lovers.

But wait, there’s more.

This summer, I found that my grandson is a Twizzler fan. He’s not even two years old yet, but is already following his genetic destiny.

This can’t be a coincidence.

There must be hard science behind it.

Don’t you agree?

Perhaps the Hershey Company would be interested in this amazing family legacy!

Does your family have a food legacy?

Something everyone, or most everyone likes to eat?

Do tell!

I like being able to count on things. Take raspberries for example. Every year toward the end of July, I count on the raspberry bushes in my yard ripening. And so far, they do.

Ripen that is.

Sometimes the yield is huge and other times it is much smaller, depending on all sorts of growing variables. The things farmers worry about like weather, water, heat, and bugs.

At my tiny urban “farm,” I can go to the three raspberry bushes we planted several years ago, pluck delicious berries, and pop them in my mouth.

Or if I’m being particularly disciplined, place them in a bowl for later use in a salad, on cereal or in a smoothie, or….

But truth be told, I usually eat them on the spot.

Warm from the sun, dripping juice.

And delicious.

Enter Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar

I’m a big Carol Ann Kates fan. She’s a local foodie who’s developed amazing flavored oils, dipping sauces, vinegars, and salsas. Everything I’ve tried has thrilled me.

Not to mention thrilling my taste buds.

Am I being redundant?

If you live in the area, you can find her line of products at many local stores. She also has a website so that you can purchase her delicious concoctions online.

So I was at the farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago, making my way through the stalls, buying my usual fare of greens, tomatoes, corn and peaches. And tasting all the samples.

At Carol Ann’s booth, I skewered a small chunk of bread on a toothpick and dipped it into Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar.

I was rewarded with something so delicious, so amazing, so raspberry-ish, I couldn’t help myself. I had to purchase it. The clerk suggested drizzling it over vanilla ice cream and then topping with fresh raspberries.

Yeah baby!

Oh my goodness, what can I tell you except Wow! This was delicious.

Tangy and sweet at the same time.

This vinegar is thick, like its been cooked down, though according to the clerk, it hasn’t. It’s perfect for drizzling.

Over greens.

Over ice cream,

Over your tongue.

Really, you owe it to yourself to give this stuff a try.

And as for the raspberries – find a local source and eat your fill.

They’re good for you.

Heart and soul.

 

It’s time for another food confession. You’ve already been with me as I’ve bared my soul about rhubarb, Twizzlers, and candy corn.

Today I’m adding hot dogs to the list. The Fourth of July weekend seems the perfect opportunity, since millions of hot dogs are likely to be purchased, cooked and eaten over the next few days.

Hot dogs are summer food.

Some of my sweetest childhood memories are of camping trips and picnics, skewering a hot dog on a long metal fork and holding it over the campfire flame until it was cooked to perfection. As a kid, that meant almost burnt black. These days, I’ve come to appreciate hot dogs that aren’t charred into oblivion.

Side note: The hot dog forks of my youth were passed down to me. They’re a work of art and so much more sturdy and functional than the flimsy ones available today. The act of writing this makes me want to rummage around in the attic and our camping gear to locate those amazing hot dog/marshmallow-roasting forks. I need to use those babies this summer!

Once you get past the obvious issue of whether or not you actually eat hot dogs, two camps take shape: mustard or ketchup. I’m in  the mustard and sauerkraut camp. My husband, on the other hand falls squarely in the group of ketchup lovers. In this regard, and a few others, we are a strongly “mixed marriage.”

And I suppose as in any dichotomy, there are those who bridge the gap and use both ketchup and mustard on their franks.

Call them hot dog peacemakers.

Gap bridgers.

Lovers of sweet and sour.

So I was paging through the June/July issue of Rachael Ray’s magazine when I came upon this recipe: Pigs in Ponchos (Tortilla-Wrapped Franks and Beans.) I gave the recipe a quick scan and liked what I read. I loved the name. I mean seriously, isn’t it fun to say?

And it was a way to combine several of my favorite foods. Not to worry, there is absolutely no rhubarb, licorice or candy corn on the ingredient list. But there is salsa, cheese and refried beans.

To quote Rachel, “Yum-o.”

We had these the other night and loved them. I grew up, as I think many in my generation did, with beans and wienies as a fairly regular dinner main dish. Rachel’s take on this felt very familiar to my taste buds. And my memories.

Here’s the recipe. I didn’t change much, but can see some variations that could be fun. These were easy and quite filling. One was plenty.

Pigs in Ponchos (Tortilla-Wrapped Franks and Beans)

From Rachel Ray Magazine

Makes 8 Ponchos

Ingredient List:

  • 8 good quality hot dogs
  • 1 can (16-ounce) vegetarian lard –free spicy refried beans
  • 1 large poblano chile pepper
  • 16 large whole-wheat tortillas (heated to soften slightly)
  • 1.5 cups homemade or store bought salsa verde (I used a lovely chipolte salsa)
  • 2.5 cups shredded Monterey jack or cheddar cheese
Get Going:
  1. Preheat an outdoor grill, indoor griddle or grill pan to medium-high heat.
  2. Parboil the hot dogs for a few minutes to heat through (we threw them on the grill for a few minutes)
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat the beans over medium heat, or cover and heat in the microwave on high for three minutes. Add a little water to thin slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, grill the poblano until evenly charred. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let cool. Then peel and slice.
  5. Make the ponchos: Top each of 4 tortillas with a thin layer of salsa verde, a swirl of mustard (if you like that sort of thing), a few slices of the charred poblano, and lots of cheese.
  6. Cover with a second tortilla. Spread it with refried beans and set a dog at one end. (don’t get carried away because the beans and salsa will ooze out and make these hard to eat. Just sayin’.) Wrap and roll the tortillas around the hot dog. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  7. Put the ponchos on the grill for a few minutes to brown and crisp the tortillas.

Make these over the weekend.

You’ll love them!

This could become a new Fourth of July tradition…

What are you eating this weekend?

An important P.S.

Happy Birthday Anne!!

Happy Birthday Kaia!!

Happy Birthday U.S. A.!!

When I met my husband, I learned early on in our relationship that he wasn’t alone. He came with family – a dowry in the form of a tall, friendly appaloosa gelding.

That would be Bud.

These two males reignited my passion for horses.

Oh, it had lurked beneath the surface of my consciousness since I was a girl. But for years, I had almost no contact with horses except for a few organized stable rides.

There was no brushing, no riding, and no visits to the barn or pasture.

The closest I got was driving past a field and admiring the grazing horses.

It was like going to the movies and watching life on the screen in front of me.

Then Rick and Bud entered my life and I learned about living the horse life. New words like colic and founder and fetlock and farrier became part of my vocabulary. Soon after Bud and Rick came to Colorado, we added Miss Pepper to our family and my equine education continued.

And is ongoing as you’ve learned from reading about our antics in the pasture.

We’ve never been able to live with our horses, which is something I still have dreams of doing. But for now, and maybe for always, we are urban horse keepers. And honestly it seems to suit all of us just fine.

At those early getting acquainted meetings, Rick made it abundantly clear that he was a horse person. “Love me, love my horse” was his motto and it has served us well. I absolutely can’t imagine my life without Bud and Pepper.

And more important (though I don’t let the horses know this), I can’t imagine my life without Rick.

So I’ll be making the family chocolate cake this weekend to celebrate Rick’s birthday. Here’s a link to the story I told last year about my initiation into making that cake. Chocolate cake with white powdered sugar icing.  NOT chocolate with a hint of cinnamon.

Lesson learned.

Happy birthday to my dear, amazing, wonderful, horse-loving, Jean-loving husband!

Today is Friday the thirteenth. It’s been an emotional roller coaster of a week, and we’ve had two days of rain that is going to make the pasture (and my lawn) green up brighter than Kermit the Frog.

I can’t think of a more perfect time to break out the comfort food.

Cake and enchiladas.

What could be better?

Jeremy and I have fallen into a pattern where he makes the main dish and I supply the dessert. We didn’t really plan it this way, but so far that’s what we’ve done. One of these months we’ll totally shock you and reverse things.

But for today, it’s Jeremy’s enchiladas and my oatmeal cake.

You’re gonna want to make these this weekend.

Jeremy’s Lean, Green Enchiladas (Happy Belated Cinco de Mayo)

This dish isn’t fancy, but it or a slight variation is eaten a lot in our household.

It is really simple to make, tastes great, and if you’re lucky to have leftovers, makes a great lunch.

Ingredients

1 medium onion, diced

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tub mushrooms, sliced

1 can artichoke hearts, chopped (not marinated)

1 can diced green chiles

1/2 cup whipped cream cheese

3-4 cups fresh spinach (I usually do 2-3 big handfuls)

1/2 bag shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 32-ounce can green enchilada sauce

8 flour tortillas

Preparation:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Dice the onion and start to soften in a pan. As the onion browns, add the mushrooms. The goal is to soften the mushrooms and get as much of the water out as you can. A sprinkle of salt will help.
  3. Once the onion/mushroom mixture has cooked down, add the artichokes and green chiles. As this mixture starts to come together, add the cream cheese and stir.
  4. Remove from the heat and then add the spinach. It will wilt pretty fast. Mix into the ingredients in the pan.
  5. Season with salt, pepper and just enough cayenne pepper to give it a little kick. I also like to stir in a little of the enchilada sauce as a binder.
  6. Spray the bottom of a 9×13 pan with a cooking spray, then cover the bottom with a little of the enchilada sauce. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the filling to a tortilla, wrap it and then roll in the enchilada sauce. This allows the sauce to cover the tortilla.  Continue filling and rolling, adjusting filling levels so that you have enough tortillas to fill the pan.
  7. Top with the remaining sauce, then cover with cheese. I add just a strip of cheese down the middle because I like the look of it. Bake for thirty minutes or until the cheese melts and the sauce is bubbly.

Let them cool for a few minutes and you are ready to go.

Enjoy!

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Topping


I first saw this recipe on the Tasty Kitchen Food Blog. I immediately printed it off and knew I wanted to make it.

It just called to me. I had the recipe on my counter for at least two weeks, getting wrinkled and splattered with food.

Then this week I knew it was time to make this cake. It was cold and rainy – perfect baking weather.

Ingredients (don’t let this long list scare you!)

For the Cake:

1-1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats

1-1/4 cup boiling water

1 cup sugar

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup softened butter

1 tsp. vanilla

3 eggs

1-1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

For the Topping:

2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup half and half

1 cup coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

Preparation:

  1. In a small bowl, combine rolled oats and boiling water. Let stand for twenty minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugars and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, blending well. Add the oatmeal and remaining cake ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour batter into the greased pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (I baked 35 minutes and it was perfect.)
  6. For the topping, combine the brown sugar, butter and cream in a small bowl. Beat at high speed until smooth. Stir in coconut and nuts. Spoon over warm cake, spread to cover.
  7. Broil 4-6 inches from heat for one to two minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Cool about 1 hour. (Of course we couldn’t wait that long.)

This cake is similar to one my mother made many times in my childhood.

Even more comfort from this comfort food.

Oh, if you notice in the first cake photo there seems to be a strip of cake missing from the pan, you’d be correct. Rick and I felt the serious need to do a taste test before adding topping. In the name of scientific exploration of course.

Have a great weekend!

First things first.

Drum roll please.

The winner of my blog anniversary Life is Good horse mug is Betsy. Thank you to everyone who left a comment. Betsy, I’ll be in touch with your prize.

Now for the excuse.

I don’t have a contribution for today’s Mother and Son Cooking Spree.

What I was making flopped.

There I said it.

I don’t want to talk about it.

I’m going to practice over the weekend and try again.

And then, I’ll tell you about it next week.

That said, my awesome, amazing son Jeremy outdid himself.

Tilapia with Hash browns just out of the oven.

I’m really happy to give him the whole stage for his tilapia dish. He deserves the whole stage.

This looks so good, I know you’re going to want to head to the grocery store right now for the ingredients so you can make it this weekend.

That’s my plan.

Shouldn’t we all be eating more fish and veggies?

Yes!

Tasty Tilapia with Hash Browns

Ingredients

  • 1 20-ounce bag frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
  • 4 cloves garlic smashed and thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 pound tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped
  • 2 T chopped Italian parsley
  • 1.5 pounds skinless Tilapia fillets
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
Here’s how you make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Mix the hash browns with the garlic and some kosher salt in a bowl. Heat some olive oil in a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. 
  3. Add the hash browns, flatten with a spatula and cook until the bottom is golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Flip the potato cake and pat it back into shape.
  4. Cook until crisp and golden, 6 to 8 minutes. The crisper the better, because the juice from the fish and olive mixture will soften the potatoes quite a lot. 
  5. I like to top the hash browns with a little cayenne pepper. It doesn’t make it really hot, just a kick to liven up the dish. (Jean’s note: this is a Jeremy trademark.)
  6. Mix the olives, tomatoes, roasted peppers, scallions and parsley in a bowl.
  7. Cut the fish into 12 pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Scatter half of the olive mixture over the potato cake and top with the fish. Scatter the remaining olive mixture on top and drizzle with olive oil.
  9. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the fish is cooked through, about 12-18 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Serve from the skillet.
This dish is good for you, quick and easy to prepare and cooks fast. An added bonus: the olives and parsley will tickle your taste buds and impress your guests.

Tilapia with hash browns ready to eat.

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