Conroe Saturday AM market

  (Conroe, Texas)
Exciting ways to use Produce
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High fiber diet for The Wife, and Tamarind

It has been careful eating for The Wife this past week. We are graduating to a high fiber diet. The Wife is trying new things daily. We need to stay away from snacks and nuts. I was never one to want these items. The Wife would indulge herself and now we understand the dangers. The food can get caught in your digestive track and cause a lot of discomfort.

Yesterday we finished the last of the homemade Chicken Noodle. Today The Wife went for a plate of under seasoned Chili and cheese along with a strawberry sno cone at the Harvest Holiday celebration at church. I may have even seen some Fritos on her plate. I would classify Fritos as a snack food. I was busy fetching Sno Cones while she was eating. My attention was on all the activity around us at the time.Three hours later she has given me an update and said even the Chocolate she had has been agreeable. She is eating like a bird right now and trying familiar items in moderation.

I also boiled Pinto beans and added sauteed diced Onions in Bacon after we arrived home.We will mix the beans in Chili or the current SamM salsa. (diced Fresh tomatoes, onions, apples, Chopped spinach, cilantro, and Rice vinegar) as we progress through the week. Large Baked potatoes are planned for a meal this week and we have Chicken breast and Pork loin. Slowly and with wisdom from our past experiences we will continue to eat healthier.

Almost forgot: Elvis from Peas Farm introduced me to Fresh Tamarind yesterday at Market. Elvis handed me a pod I was taught how to peel away the outer shell. I then broke off a section of the Fleshy pod in my hand. Elvis said," Now, suck on the section until you find the seed inside." " Spit the seed out, It should have tasted like a sour apple" What a unique experience for me at market. I put the rest of my Tamarind pod away while at market. When I arrived home I put the fleshy Tamarind pod in my salsa. I only just now remembered to go retrieve the four seeds from the salsa. The vinegar in the salsa softened the pod so I could easily remove the flesh from the seed.

Elvis told me he will shuck what is left  in his box of Tamarind after Market and boil the fleshy pods in water. Add sugar and let cool so he can retrieve the seeds and use what he has created to season salsa and jellies. Always an education at Conroe's Farmers Market.

                                  

  

 

 

 
 

Moving forward with a low fiber diet

Today we graduated to her favorite. A large Baked Potato from Peas Farm. I prepared it for her last night. She was to exhausted to eat it. She had it for lunch this afternoon. The skin of the potato could not be eaten. Which she normally does not eat any way.

For dinner this evening it was back to having more of the Homemade Chicken Noodle soup with no salt crackers. Boiled Chicken in meat first chicken stock, Peeled carrots, and potatoes, Minced Fresh red peppers, Cilantro, Sage and finally cooked egg noodles. Add the noodles one bowl at a time. Soon we will have the OK to go with a high fiber diet. What an education. I am looking forward to us knowing how to eat healthier because of this experience.

 

 
 

The Wife's first meal, That tasted so good.

I did my research, I spoke to Chef Michael Fleshner and Elvis from Peas Farm. Here's what I prepared for The Wife, It started with Chicken thighs and Chicken breast.

Actually it started with 1 gallon of water and all of the different vegetable juices from the fridge. The Chicken was diced and added first. Fresh carrots were peeled and chopped. Diced Red peppers, Garlic and sage were stirred in next. Diced Peeled potatoes, chopped Cilantro and two Tbsp. of meat first Chicken base finish it out.

The egg noodles are boiled in a separate pan with water and cooled in cold water. Egg noodles are placed in the bottom of the bowl and hot soup is poured on top. I offered no salt top Saltines to The Wife. Our first Low fiber meal together was a success. It will continue to be an exciting adventure as I learn how to help The Wife.

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The Wife is home from Hospital

Last Thursday The Wife went into the hospital unexpectedly. I have been out of sorts for a few days . Today she came home. I brought her home after market. I learned she is on a Low Fiber diet. Conroe's farmer market is open again tomorrow before the Clint Black Benefit concert. I will speak with Chef Michael Fleshner and Elvis from Peas Farm and learn about Low fiber diets.

Before picking up The Wife I bought Fresh Tomatoes, Large Baked Potatoes, Fresh Green Beans,Yellow pepper, Macintosh Apple, Cilantro, and I also picked up Fresh spinach, and White onions. Until I speak with Chef Michael or Elvis I will not know if I bought the best fresh produce for a low fiber diet. I will do my research and prepare what is best for The Wife.

Tonight I put together Cream tomato soup for The Wife, Lime jello, and Chocolate pudding. It's what she was used to in the hospital. On our way home we stopped at the grocery store so she could pick the items the nurse told her to eat. Slowly we are going to get back to solid foods and I will learn a healthier way to prepare our meals.

 


 
 

Julia Childs, Would you like a Beouf a la Bourguignonne Omelette ?

Time to make space for two days of worth of Conroe's Farmer Market in my fridge. Clint black is performing after Market on Sunday. I am filled with anticipation as I prepare for all the excitement this weekend will offer. And Peas Farm will right in the middle of it all showing their best Fresh veggies.

For dinner tonight I decided Julie Child's Beouf a la Bourguignonne was the perfect leftover to showcase in our dinner omelette. Added to the Beouf a la Bourguignonne was diced polish Sausage, Fresh roasted Garlic, Corn, Black-Eye Peas, SamM salsa, six scrambled Eggs all topped with shredded mozzarella Cheese. Toasted Italian bread slices, No butter needed because there was enough juice in the omelette for the toast to sop up. Pink Lemonade was the perfect beverage to have with this meal tonight.

Often refrigerator clean out meals are the most memorable. It brings former meals from recent days back in the limelight to be enjoyed all over again.

 

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Pork and Artichokes

Artichokes have been a tough sell at my house. I had to read up on how to prepare Fresh artichokes. Either I did not read and follow directions. Or the woodiness of the cooked vegetable just did not agree with The Wife and I.

Nonetheless I enjoyed the experience of trying something new. After boiling the artichokes for the recommended time and finding the leaves were tough to chew I tried pureeing them. I found the puree stringy. The artichoke hearts were tender enough. I ate them as a snack with Mayonaise and Balsamic vinegar mixture.

Last night I baked Pork chops that were covered with the puree soaked in Balsamic vinegar for flavor. The puree mixture was discarded after the cooking process due to the tough stringy pieces of artichoke. I was able to then add Fresh sliced Onions, Mushroom, and chopped fresh roasted Garlic to top off the Pork chops. The Wife also had a Large baked Potato that was rubbed with oil and Fresh minced Garlic from our restaurant visit. And I completed the meal with canned mix vegetables. Farmer's market closed this last Saturday due to CatFish Festival. Canned vegetables will be on display on our dinner plates this week.  :)  :) 

 

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Fresh Garlic from our favorite restaurant

Conroe's Farmer's Market was not open today because the city of Conroe closed down the town for it's annual CatFish Festival. Instead The Wife and I visited our favorite restaurant. Sweet Tomato {Soup Plantation}We enjoy this restaurant because we are in charge of the food on our plate.We pick the items from the various food bars. Salad , Soup, Pasta, Fruit, Baked goods, Desserts, and Mixology at the Beverage bar.

I normally go straight to the Soup and Baked goods bar. The Wife will fill up her first plate with a collage of Salads. There is on item we both fell head over heels for. This month they are promoting Potatoes. Potato soups, salad, and sauteed potato dishes. Plus special Butter mixes to put on Baked Potato varieties.The potato item we both had three helpings of was prepared like so. First they slowly sauteed whole Garlic until the Garlic was browned. The chef added Bacon and then boiled diced fresh Red skin Potatoes. It was mouth watering fabulous. I even added the potatoes to Boston Clam chowder to better the flavor profile.  And when The Wife was finished eating the inside of her Baked Potato I took her skin and filled it with the Fresh Red Skin,Bacon,Garlic dish.

What a great way to complete a wonderful Meal at our favorite restaurant.

The Wife did not want to eat her whole Garlic. I brought it home in a paper ramekin. I will use the whole garlic to create great meals at home this week. As long as I chop it up and she doesn't see the garlic she will be pleased with how the food tastes.

 
 

Cereal killer at Supermarket

I walked into the grocery store the other day and they had a sign posted.

Arti-chokes three for a $1.00. Needless to say I did not want to cross paths with Arti and become his next victim. So I picked up my fresh artichokes and went straight to checkout. Tonight I brought up a site on the computer that showed how to prep fresh artichokes.

How to cook Artichokes

 

1. If the artichokes have little thorns on the end of the leaves, take a kitchen scissors and cut of the thorned tips of all of the leaves. This step is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and pose no threat to the person eating the artichoke.

artichoke-1.jpg artichoke-2.jpg

2. Slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke.

3. Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.

4. Cut excess stem, leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. The stems tend to be more bitter than the rest of the artichoke, but some people like to eat them. Alternatively you can cut off the stems and peel the outside layers which is more fibrous and bitter and cook the stems along with the artichokes.

5. Rinse the artichokes in running cold water.

artichoke-3.jpg6. In a large pot, put a couple inches of water, a clove of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf (this adds wonderful flavor to the artichokes). Insert a steaming basket. Add the artichokes. Cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 25 to 45 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off. Note: artichokes can also be cooked in a pressure cooker (about 15-20 minutes cooking time). Cooking time depends on how large the artichoke is, the larger, the longer it takes to cook.

After following these steps my artichokes were not completely tender. I have them marinating in 1part Rice vinegar,Balsamic blend to 10 parts water. Placing food in vinegar is another recognized cooking method in the Culinary world. In a few days I will try the artichoke pedals again and let you know how it turned out.

And Yes, I know; cereal killer   should have been spelled serial killer. :)

 
 

Chicken Thighs and Pasta Salad done Fred's way

It was a wise choice last night while my excitement was over the top to prepare two days worth of meals. I had to make an unexpected ride to the airport to pick-up family that arrived two hours early from rain battered Florida. And that brought me home one hour late for dinner.

Tonight I was instructed to keep the already prepared meal simple for The Wife. She had me heat up her Chardonay Herbed Chicken thighs and Corn cobs. And the Pasta salad was served cold. I was given a kiss and told the meal was wonderful; I had followed directions !

My meal on the other hand was extrordinary. I kept everything cold. The Champaign BBQ Chicken thighs, canned Corn, and then I added 2oz of pink Lemonade to 3oz. of Bleu Cheese dressing and mixed it into the Pasta salad. I also added in crumbled Cheese crackers to my pasta to give it a crunchy element. The Wife was watching "Chopped" on TV and I wanted to prepare a meal that was worthy of the TV judges. I believe I succeeded; I received a grateful kiss from my number one judge.

 

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Summer is over, Let's have a Pasta salad

I saw the temperature today at 2:30 pm it was 93 F and warming up. Upon returning from the grocery store this evening I was ready to cook. Tri-color Pasta and Chicken thighs @ $.79 per pound were my find today.

I began by boiling half the bag of Pasta.I prepared the baked Chicken thighs two different ways. Herbed seasoned in Chardonay for The Wife. And I had mine submersed in Champaign BBQ sauce with a Red onion between the skin and meat. When the Pasta was finished I added fine diced Fresh Red and Green Bell peppers, Red Onion, Fresh Zucchini, Parmesan Cheese and Rice vinegar, Balsamic blend. I made enough of the Pasta salad to last for a few days.The Chicken thighs and Pasta salad will be enjoyed tomorrow with Market fresh Corn when The wife and I take a lunch break. Tonight I took the Pasta salad, added Tuna salad and the current SamM salsa. Topped it off with croutons. Sprinkled rice vinegar on the croutons. And savoured every bite.

 

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Champaign BBQ and Boeuf à la Bourguignonne

I am ecstatic tonight that the movie "Courageous" made it to the big screen. As I followed the story lines for each individual character I felt like my life's current circumstances most closely follows the life of Javier. I too am trusting God for his direction in my next position in the work place. I may become a Field Analyst sharing the opportunities of a consulting firm to small businesses. My passion for preparing healthy home cooked meals for my wife and family will always be center stage. It helps me to unwind from stressful situations I face day to day when I take command of the kitchen.

This past weekend I played the roll of a wine server at an Art Gallery event in downtown Conroe.Artist Carolyn Pells www.CarolynPells.com had a show at Chef Michael Fleshner parent's Gallery. I had been to the Market earlier in the day. Experienced a market that had doubled in size since my last visit. Tasted Fresh Italian Sausage made three different ways. Spicy, with Fennel, or with crushed Fennel. I have not made up my mind what to buy yet. Next week I learned the Market will not be open due to Conroe TX. Catfish Festival.

Back to the wine serving for just a moment. When I finished my stint as wine pourer I had 2 glasses of everything poured waiting for the last minute stragglers. No takers, So Instead of dumping the Chardonay , Merlot and Champaign I found styrofoam cups and brought the drinks home to cook with. The artist family offered the leftover champaign. I mentioned I know a great Champaign Chicken recipe. I brought home half a bottle.

I had a round steak in my freezer. Thawed it out overnight and made a simple Boeuf à la Bourguignonne for dinner after the movie.The steak was diced after de-boning. Seasoned with Popcorn salt, Black pepper, Nutmeg, and Penzy's Rosemary. I added the seasoned meat to a hot saute pan. Browned the meat and added 1 inch diced Fresh White Onion. Cooked on low heat for 20 min. before adding 8 oz. Merlot mixed with Tomato sauce. I placed this in a 280 F oven for 1 hour. Placed the cooked meat in the fridge till after we came home from seeing Courageous. While baking the browned meat and onion I also baked a potato with oil,salt and rosemary on the skin. Upon arriving at home I stuffed the baked potato with the simple Boeuf à la Bourguignonne. reheated it for 30 min. and The Wife let out a ummh. on her first bite. Cooking with Champaign will be an adventure for later this week. For the moment I added it to a container of BBQ sauce in my fridge.


 
 

It is all about Market Fresh Green Beans

Caught in crazy 5 pm traffic. I do not usually like to wander home at this time. Today went like clockwork. I locked the doors at work and started  my trek home. I was OK until I was within three miles of the house on the Interstate. I exited onto the feeder road early because of a traffic slow down on the Interstate and I sat on the feeder road with all the others who thought the feeder road would be quicker tonight. It was not, because Exxon's new World Headquarters construction traffic was also exiting onto the feeder road one mile ahead.

Frustrated about my wrong choices while traveling home I offered The Wife a choice of Pasta dishes from the fridge. She made her choice and I said," How about Fresh Green Beans from last Saturday's Market". She accepted and I was off and running, I mean prepping. I cut off the ends, washed the beans, threw away the bad, cut into 2 inch lengths. And dropped them into a pot of boiling water. The bottom of the pot was wide enough that I was able to add Sliced mushrooms to my side of the pot along with Tomato juice. And I sprinkled Sea salt on everything. The Wife's Pasta dish was microwaved and I carefully filled half of her bowl with the Green Beans. Being careful not to show her it had cooked with Mushrooms or in tomato juice. She polished off the Green Beans first and ate her Mac Cheese and hamburger pasta last. And you know how I roll I added my Green Beans/ Mushroom to a another item from the cupboard and topped it off with Garlic croutons. Excellent!

 

 
 

A Simple Dinner

I wandered in at 6pm The Wife had not eaten all day. I had to make dinner simple. She would be out the door in 45 Min. We both realized a Market fresh Baked potato was not the answer tonight.

I started the water boiling. Decided that if I took a cob of corn and sliced it into six pieces and added 1/2 stick of butter that would be a good start. I turned on the oven to 350 F and placed the hot corn in a metal bowl in the oven. I then switched my focus to making Mac n cheese with fresh diced White onions in the pan that I heated the corn in. When I was satisfied with the Mac in cheese. I microwaved the last of the Chili Mac for The Wife. To build her dinner I placed Cheeze-its on the bottom of a bowl. Then added Mac n Cheese . Next came the 1 cup of Chili and topped it all off with shredded Monterey Jack. Her side dish was three pieces of sliced corn on the cob.The Wife's dinner was done. She gobbled it down and out the door.

I spooned the Mac n Cheese into a bowl .Placed Dill pickles on the side. And ate it with buttered Italian bread that had hundreds of little crevices in it that captured the Butter. I ate one piece of corn and decided to chop up the rest of the cob and place them in her version of Chicken Sausage Gumbo for another day. Simple, simple, simple.

 

 

 
 

I have Okra, Yes! I have Okra

Well it is National Night Out. And I met my neighbors at one of the local Walmarts. It was not my intention to do so.The Wife kept us out shopping and we drove past the Clubhouse in our neighborhood at exactly 8pm. National Night Out ran from 6-8pm. I wonder if The wife planned our day of shopping that way? We purchased a lot of plastic buckets for organizing our lives.

I was anxious at 6 pm to return home because I had my Okra by then. And I wanted to improve on Monday nights Gumbo. The round loaf of bread was awesome with my Gumbo. Sopping up the juices as I closed my eyes enjoying every last bite. The important ingredient list for my Gumbo is Chicken-Sausage-Rice-Large diced White onions-Bell peppers-Roma tomatoes-Gumbo file-Black pepper- and OKRA. All the vegetables are fresh. And only season with meat first base in place of any salt. Hope your next bowl of Gumbo is as wildly flavorful as mine has been this week.

 

 
 

First Blog and new SamM salsa

 Today was a day where we had enough leftovers in the fridge to eat all day and not have to prepare anything new. As I reviewed the first blog I wrote two months ago I noticed the recipe for SamM salsa has one changed ingredient. A month ago I found Rice vinegar Balsamic blend in the grocery store for $0.59 cents a bottle. I have a few bottles still in the cupboard and I have grown fond of using this product with the diced Fresh Tomatoes and White onions.

Here is the description of my latest Balsamic vinegar:

The light and tangy taste of Nakano's family of seasoned rice vinegars can add zest and flavor to your favorite meals. And seasoned vinegars are fat free and gluten free! Usage tips: Mix with olive oil as salad dressing; drizzle over strawberries or tomatoes; sprinkle on vegetables. Deposit found in bottles is a natural occurrence and does not deter quality.

Ingredients

Rice Vinegar, Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Balsamic Vinegar, Salt, Brown Sugar, Diluted with Water to 4% Acidity (40 Grain).

 

Here is First Blog re-submitted

Now that my wife and I are empty-nesters I have returned to a passion of mine. 'Preparing affordable delicious meals for the two of us.' I shop Conroe Saturday am Market{SamM} looking for the freshest ingredients to please our tastes that have evolved during our child rearing years.

Let me share a few basics that I use regularly when creating our daily menu items.

1) I have learned to use meat first bases instead of salt to flavor our dishes.   {with the newest craze for Sea Salt I do experiment with this product}

2) I scour the grocery stores for the best price on Balsamic vinegar and buy fresh tomatoes, onions and different varieties of peppers from SamM for another flavor enhancer that I create.

 Recipe is as follows: 2cups diced fresh tomatoes

                                  1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar

                                   1/4 cup diced onion

                                    {Spanish, red, green, or white onions--you decide}

It is good to experiment and with this mixture I get creative. I may add diced apples,peppers, or Mango. Once I even added burnt bacon.

3) I fry rice , add liquid from containers in the fridge, cook until the liquid is absorbed and save it for a dish later in the week.Normally the rice is purposely undercooked. When the rice is reheated in a dish a few days later it is fully cooked and has full flavor from marinating.

My wife at this time is my only critic.So when she says,"Fabulous meal" I am happy and feel I have accomplished what i set out to do. Make her happy so she can say one day, " I have enjoyed our time together"

 

Fred
 
 

Is Gumbo ? Gumbo without Okra.

On the way home from my Parents tonight I asked The Wife."Would you like Gumbo" Her response, " What will you be putting in it" I tried to explain all the ingredients until I said Okra. Chicken...Sausage...Rice...saute Onion...diced Tomato...Gumbo file...Black Pepper...Okr..."No okra", she blurted out. I had to ponder that for a moment and said,"When we arrive home I will decide"

Upon Arrival to our under-demolition kitchen I scavenged through the cupboard and fridge. And here is what I came up with.

One Chicken Breast thawing out in water that I diced up, Found half a stick of Polish sausage that I sliced into 1/2 moons.Boiled this in the water while I started a hot skillet on the next burner. I added coarse chopped bacon and 3 White onions that I diced large. As I was cooking the onions till they turned translucent I found 1/2 a Fresh bell pepper, diced it large. And retrieved the cooked meat from the boiling pot into the frying pan. Now I turned my attention to the boiling water.I added 1/2 cup tomato sauce and the juice from a can of c-o-r-n. The c o r n was The Wife's substitute for Okra. Also to the boiling liquid, I added Lentil and white Rice. While the rice was cooking I was stirring and turning my attention back to the frying pan. First was the addition of Gumbo file and water. While simmering I seasoned with Nacho flavored salt, market fresh Cilantro, dry roasted Red pepper seeds. Then diced in one Fresh tomato, and forced myself to add c o r n instead of Okra. When the rice and lentil absorbed 90% of the liquid I combined the two pots. One last seasoning almost forgotten, Zaxby dipping packets.

Zaxby's is a chicken restaurant in the S.Eastern U.S. that my wife and I have frequented. Usually we bought extra dipping sauce packages so we did not run out while eating our chicken fingers.

 As long as I wasn't creating real Gumbo with Okra. I decided the Zaxby dipping sauces were worth experimenting with. The Wife had Cheez-its added to the bottom of her bowl and I made Parmesan cheese bread wedges made from a round loaf,for dipping.The Wife told me her meal was fabulous. I placed the 1/2 gallon of leftovers in the fridge knowing in my heart that I must pick-up Okra soon to add to my next bowl of real gumbo.

 


 
 
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