Conroe Saturday AM market

  (Conroe, Texas)
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Kale Crisps were not for My Wife

I was in a cooking mood tonight. Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Rice, Kale Crisps, Italian Meatballs. These were all separate meals for different days. After researching Kale Crisps I decided on this method of preparation.

I oiled my fingers with Canola Oil and rubbed the bite size pieces of Kale before lining them on a cookie sheet. I then sprinkled very lightly with Sea salt and Old Bay seasoning. This was placed in a 350F oven for 15 min. When I pulled them out I found the Kale pieces took on a paper thin, fragile feel to the touch. My Wife using all her bravery tried a tiny bite. The look on her face was tell tale. I know she will never try Kale again, unless I hide it in something.

Sausage Chicken Gumbo over Brown Rice was our meal for tonight. Diced Chicken tenders, Italian sausage and Pork were sauteed.Fresh Tomato, Okra and carrots were added. Black pepper and meat first Chicken base with fridge vegetable juice were added for seasoning. Brown rice was boiled separately in corn water. And thick slices of Rye Bread from a round loaf was offered for dipping.

The Italian Meat balls made with ground Italian sausage and Pork will be served in a few days. I will have to create a bland sauce because the meatballs were over salted. And eight of the forty Meatballs had the crumbled Kale Crisps added in. Almost forgot to mention I sprinkled Honey over the Crisps to make them tastier. Let us see if hiding the Kale in the Meatballs gets a thumbs up.

kale chips
 
 

Kale the Superfood in Conroe Texas

Kale the Superfood is in the House. I have been learning about Cherries and Cherry juice to combat Gout. Another food that has been on my radar has been Kale. Yesterday, I decided it was time to begin the journey and learn how to enjoy Kale. 

A few very important facts about  Kale. Do not buy the Kale that has been sitting out on display. Ask the farmer for Kale from their cooler or fridge. Kale will last for 5 days after you bring it home. Keep it free from moisture and store in a bag with the air removed if possible.

Today I added Kale to an Italian Sausage and Sauerkraut sandwich. This was not the best way to eat Kale as I had already learned from Clinton and his wife the newest produce vendors to the Conroe Market. Here are some suggestions they offered.

Be Smoothie
A kale smoothie is a great idea for newbies who aren’t quite used to the veggie’s texture (everything tastes better blended up!). In a blender, throw in two bananas, a handful of kale leaves, 1/2 cup of water and two ice cubes. Blend it up and taste. You can play with the ingredients, adding more or less of each, as you figure out what you like best.

Better Than Lettuce
Mixed greens are healthier option than romaine lettuce and kale is even healthier still. To adjust to the flavor and texture, start off lacing your normal salad with a handful of kale. Then, as you get used to it, use more kale and less lettuce. Prepare your leafy green bed like so: Separate the leaves from the thick stems and chop. In a large bowl, mix kale with lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Massage for two to three minutes until the kale starts to soften and wilt (for a softer texture). Then toss in your extras and dress according to taste.

Get Steamy
Some studies find that kale offers cholesterol-lowering benefits if it’s steamed before eaten. First, separate the leaves from the thick stems and chop finely. Put the kale in a steamer basket above a pot of water. Add a garlic clove (finely minced), bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to steam the kale for about 10 minutes or until the leaves are tender. Plate the kale and dress with a dash of oil, salt and pepper.

Potato Chip Alternative
Greasy—and salty—potato chips are bad for you but these kale chips are good for you and will help satisfy your junk food craving. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Wash and dry kale. Then, use kitchen shears to cut the leaves into bite size pieces. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Spread the kale out on the parchment paper and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the edges brown but are not burnt.

To get the most health benefits from kale, let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes before cooking. Sprinkling with lemon juice before letting them sit can further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration.

The potato chip or Kale Crisps I will try later this week. I understand though that the steam method is the best method and here is why. When we eat kale, the fiber-related nutrients interact with bile acids in the intestines and prevent the bile acids from being emulsified with the fat. Our livers use cholesterol in the production of bile acids.  Bile acids are used in the body to aid with digestion and the absorption of fats through a process known as emulsification.  Kale interacts with the bile acids, helping the body absorb more cholesterol.

The fiber-related components in kale do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they've been cooked (cooked (steamed, sautéd or boiled). Cooking breaks down the fiber in kale, helping them interact with the bile acids. When the binding process takes place, it's easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw kale still has cholesterol-lowering ability--just not as much.

 

Other good Benefits of adding in Kale to ones diet.Kale's nutrient richness stands out in three particular areas: (1) antioxidant nutrients, (2) anti-inflammatory nutrients, and (3) anti-cancer nutrients I will continue to enjoy the taste of many gout fighting fruits including Apples, Apricots, Berries,Cherries, Cantaloupe and Papaya. And add in Kale the Superfood. Care to join me?

 

 

 
 

Re-submitting first blog from Sept. 2011

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"

 
 

Pizza on a Zucchini half

Pizza was served tonight on a Large Zucchini sliced lengthwise.The past few weeks Peas Farms has been offering large Zucchini. I questioned, "What do you do with a 32oz Zucchini. I was given a handful of suggestions. The one that stuck with me was to core out the seeds and make a pizza.

Tonight I did just that after bringing home one larger than life Zucchini.I began by pre-heating the oven to 400 F. Sliced off both ends of the Zuke and cored out the centers and began making my Tomato sauce. I first shaved thin pieces of bacon and heated them in a sauce pan. Next I diced up the the zucchini centers and added it to the hot bacon. This was stirred until the zucchini seeds and flesh turned brown. I then added what was left of SamM salsa that I found in the fridge. And 2 cups of prepared tomato sauce. Brought this to a bubbling boil and turned off the heat. Covered and held for final assembly. I reached for a block of Mozzarella and diced it up for the topping.

Assembly was quick. Into the Zucchini boat went the hot sauce until it was level with the top. I added in a combination pizza meat and topped with the Mozzarella cheese. Baked my creation for 40 min at 400F. Another option would be to place Pepperoni slices on top. My Wife and I discussed this meal on Saturday at Market and she did not want pepperoni on her Zucchini pizza. So I hid her meat under the cheese.

The Fresh salad greens with Fresh raspberries tossed in was a greater hit for My Wife tonight. And even that was a refrigerator clean-out salad, Romain leaves, Red leaf lettuce, Coleslaw, Raspberry jello, and well hidden Mac n Cheese. I made sure the Fresh Raspberries and Black berries were on the top of the salad.

 

 
 

Vinegar or Mayonnaise based Slaw, VOTE HERE

Cole Slaw can be Vinegar based or Mayonnaise based. In the fridge tonight is a vinegar based slaw that will be served tomorrow during Family group Sunday night. Whether it leaves my kitchen as is, or Mayonnaised is yet to be determined.

My Wife and I first tried the shredded Cabbage, diced baby carrots, Cider vinegar and Brown sugar version. My Wife gave me the thumbs up. I went back to the kitchen feeling Great. I could not shake the idea that maybe the mayo based Slaw would also work. I added Italian salad dressing and Hellman's Mayo. We sampled again and My Wife confirmed, " This also very good." We decided that we will wait til 4pm tomorrow night, taste, then add more ingredients for additional dressing if needed

I also believe My Wife may take a poll during morning worship service to determine if we should take a Vinegar based or Mayonnaise based Cole Slaw. The Food theme for Family group Bible study is Texas BBQ.

Let me also mention that I was introduced to Roasted Corn at the Conroe farmer's market today. After eating a Roasted Cob I vote for roasted corn at 550 F over boiled in veggie juice or water with butter. The corn comes off easier and does not stick in your teeth.

 

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Vermicelli and Italian Sausage

We are still enjoying SamM salsa from Mother's day. diced Roma tomatoes, White Onions, Yellow bell peppers , Balsamic vinegar and fresh Oregano. Held in a glass container. Last night I sauteed Fresh ground Italian sausage removed from it's casing. Added in one cup of SamM salsa to a pound of sausage. I then thickened the sauce by adding a Ragu style sauce, turned off the heat and concentrated on boiling the Vermicelli in fridge juice.

Fridge juice is created by saving the cooking liquid from a previous meal. This juice was the saved cooking liquid from boiling Mother's Day Redskin potatoes. Always taste your fridge juices before using to insure they have not soured on you. And I make it practice to never save cooking liquid that had seafood in it. 

With the Vermicelli cooked I tossed the noodle in Olive oil and Fresh Oregano.Placed the hot noodles in a bowl and ladled the meat sauce over the top.  I brought home from a bakery round loaves of cheese bread. I quartered the loaf, split the quartered loaf and added margarine.

It is a meal worth repeating. I foresee adding Beans, Chili seasoning and cooked Pasta to the Meat sauce for Chili mac in the near future.

 

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Mother's Day Pot Roast and Pie in the Sky

Yard work , Detailing a VW Beetle that I am selling, and preparing Mother's Day Pot Roast. All in a Days work. Upon arriving home from church I scampered into the kitchen, set the oven temperature to 400 F. I retrieved from the fridge a pan of pot roast that had been marinating overnight in Balsamic vinegar and SamM salsa. I set the timer for 90 min. placed the roast in the oven and went outside to start on the lawn

 

First I want to clear up SamM salsa; I created two versions of it. They both started with Fresh diced Roma tomatoes, Fresh diced White onions, Fresh diced Yellow Bell peppers, and Balsamic vinegar. To the first bowl for My Wife I added Fresh Oregano. To a smaller bowl for myself I added a Fresh Salsa pepper. I marinated the Roast over night using My Wife's version.

The lawn took one hour. With thirty minutes of roasting time to go; I large diced Fresh Baby carrots and a large potato. Retrieved vegetable water from the fridge and boiled these root veggies till they were crunchy.The timer went off on the roast . I saved the water from the boiling pot for another day and added the vegetables to the pot roast. Over the top of the vegetables and roast I poured more Balsamic vinegar and My Wife's SamM salsa. Back into the oven it went at 350 F for forty minutes. And I went back to filling lawn bags with leaf debris. I had seven bags of debris to fill so I filled three, returned to the kitchen to pull the roast and potatoes so it could rest and filled four more lawn bags outside.

 Dinner was served soon after. My Wife praised me for it. The salsa with Balsamic vinegar gave it a restaurant flare.I was pleased My Wife was happy. Our daughter took Mom out for dinner yesterday . Our Son called from Alabama and sent his Mother a picture of the Steak and potato lunch he created for her. {Of course he ate it in BAMA} So off to sleep for a one hour nap. And then I remembered I needed to vacuum out the VW I am selling. 

Now for Pie in the Sky. A new vendor came to Conroe Market this weekend. Representing vegetables grown along side a Tilapia fish farm pond. And she brought pies from her daughter's Pie in the Sky company, Awesome pies. The water from the pond is filtered through rocks and used to fertilize the vegetable garden inside a green house. The process is referred to as Aquaponics. The Salsa peppers came from this vendor.

If you live near Houston,TX check out my 2000 New Beetle in Spring Texas on Auto Trader. Needs engine work.

Pot Roast

 

 
 

The benifits of Blackberries

As I continue to recover from my last Gout attack I have found Cherry juices and Fresh Blackberries and Blue Berries. The most readily available and affordable items have been the Fresh berries. This week I transformed Blended Plain Yogurt into many different creations.

I added Strawberry jam to some of it. Another day I mixed in Honey, Fresh Banana and Fresh Blue berries. After a visit to Conroe Saturday am Market this past Saturday I brought home Fresh Blackberries. I enjoyed the addition of honey in my last creation of fruited yogurt, I mixed extra honey and half a pint fresh Blackberries into 1 cup of yogurt. Tears welled into my eyes after the second spoonful. And then I found this article on the internet today. From The Post Game blog

Lifting is great and some people enjoy the soreness they feel the next day after an intense workout while others really can't stand it -- especially if they did a crazy leg workout. But you know the phrase: You can feel sore or you can feel sorry. Feeling sore can offer a sense of achievement. Still, it's important to recover from many long training sessions, so try incorporating the foods below to recuperate more quickly.

Why Do I Feel Sore? Many people feel the soreness but aren't sure where the pain comes from. The question that I get most often is, "How come I feel sore the day after, but not that same day?" The answer is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). So what causes this? When you work out, you are creating tiny tears in your muscles. This is normally a result of high intensity exercises such as heavy lifting or sprinting. Your muscles then want to recover, so they begin to heal themselves. Consuming an adequate amount of protein and nutrients, while giving your body enough time to rest helps accomplish this; and your muscles are built during this phase. That's why recovery days are very important.

1) Whole Grain Cereal: You may have heard that you should eat carbs before a workout, which is true, but you should also consume them after as well. Carbohydrates can help your body fight the fatigue that it feels after a workout by restoring your glycogen stores. When you exercise, you are using up all of your glycogen stores (or energy stores.) It's really important to replenish them after a workout so that you do not experience that sleepy feeling. Any carbohydrate snack will do but whole grains are always the best choice.

2) Cherries: Cherries are kind of like a magical fruit. They have many anti-inflammatory properties, which are really important for relieving muscle soreness. The antioxidant that gives cherries this healing ability is called anthocyanins. Many athletes consume tart cherry juice prior to workouts for this reason. Instead of popping that ibuprofen or Advil, reach for some nice, fresh cherries or cherry juice instead.

3) Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts -- whatever kind of nuts you want. All kinds of nuts are very high in Vitamin E. This vitamin has muscle strengthening powers which will ultimately help to fight muscle soreness. Once you begin to get stronger, you will notice that you are not as sore as you were when you first began training. When you have been training for a while, your muscles are stronger and you don’t tear the muscle as much as you did in the beginning. Less tears equals less soreness. Vitamin E also helps repair the damage that was done to the muscle tissue. Eat foods high in Vitamin E, like nuts, to help build that muscle strength…and keep training.

4) Berries: Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries all contain antioxidants called polyphenols. These antioxidants are what protect your cells against damage. Aside from their ability to reduce muscle pain, they also help protect against all the other damages that can be done to our cells that can cause cancer. Generally, the darker the berry, the more antioxidants it contains so try to eat dark berries such as blackberries and blueberries. They are a healthy and delicious snack. You can even throw them into your protein shake for an added bonus.

5) Salmon: Fish in general is loaded with protein and a ton of essential fatty acids. Fatty acids help to reduce inflammation which in turn fights muscle soreness. Not a fan of fish? Take a fish oil supplement.

6) Eggs: Particularly egg yolks. Ignore the cholesterol factor. Eggs are high in protein and Vitamin D. Both of these two things help fight muscle soreness and aid in muscle growth. Vitamin D has become one of the biggest deficiencies in the American diet. It is really important to consume foods high in this vitamin, especially to help reduce muscle pain. Many people tend to get rid of the yolk of the egg because of the added cholesterol and calories but those calories in the yolk are all really good calories. They provide vitamin D and protein. Eat the whole egg. If you do have high cholesterol, try to limit yourself to a couple whole eggs a week and consume Vitamin D fortified low fat milk.

Gout Attacks happen twelve hours after I have stressed muscles from physical activity. Chef Michael Fleshner's son is a 2012 Olympic diver hopeful and we have compared notes on how to recover from muscle injuries, this article speaks volumes of good advice for both of us.

 

 

 
 

Moussaka or Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant was the talk of the Market today. Elvis from Peas Farm had his Eggplant front and center. And Chef Michael Fleshner was ready to answer any and all questions. Highlites from Chef Michael's answer included maximum flavor ideas and his explanation of Moussaka. 

Many asked,"What does it taste like ?" Chef Michael's answer was simply," It depends on what you use to enhance the flavor." He spoke of citrus flavors that the vegetable will absorb. Oils used and pepper flavors. He spoke of salting the slices of eggplant to excite the vegetable before adding any flavor enhancers. Eggplant peeled and marinated in SamM Salsa before heating is one excellent way to prepare. Peeled Eggplant drizzled with Olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese. Eggplant peeled and soaked over night in Balsamic vinegar then high heat sauteed. It was all said to help the customers realize that Eggplant has little flavor until you add the flavors that will soak in.

Now, Moussaka or Eggplant Parmesan sounded like the best use of Eggplant. After slicing the eggplant one quarter inch you salt and let sit. In the meantime you make your favorite Meat sauce. Use Sausage if its available. Saute Onions, Peppers, Carrots and Garlic into the Tomato sauce. Add agave nectar if available. With the Meat sauce created. Set aside and concentrate on the salted Eggplant slices.

Each slice needs to be battered with egg wash and breadcrumbs (Parmesan Cheese in the bread crumbs). Next each slice is pan fried and placed in a casserole dish side by side. With first layer covering the bottom, of the casserole you cover with the meat sauce standing by. This step is repeated as you build layers until you are just below the side of the casserole dish. The next step is to cover over the top layer with a white Greek cheese.

If you go to a cheese shop in Athens, you will find a section full with discs of graviera for instance - each one with the name of the area or island they are from, everybody has their favourite, either because they are from that island or prefer the taste of a particular one.

You will sometimes find one type of Greek cheese known by a totally different name in the rest of Greece.Once this decision is made it is time to place the casserole in a preheated 400 F oven and bake till cheese is golden brown , around 20 minutes. You must allow this casserole to cool before slicing and portioning. Serve with bread sticks or toasted bread and wipe the tears from your eyes as you savor each bite.

 

 
 

Chicken Rice and Okra

The meal inspiration came from poking around in the Fresh vegetable bin and Freezer. I first found Chicken tenders and could not decide if I would marinate them for an hour or just start sauteing them. In the pan on the stove I ended up starting with oil and Fresh Peppers and Purple Onions. A slice of Bacon chopped up was added and then the fun began.

When I pulled the bacon from the freezer I found a bag of frozen cooked rice, left over from a previous meal. It was time to toss this in to the Pepper , Onions and Bacon. As that thawed I I had already started marinating the Chicken tenders in Italian salad dressing. I decided to add the Chicken tenders right away. As the chicken tenders began cooking I went back to the fridge and freezer to discover my next ingredient.

And behold I found a quart of vegetable juice from preparing noodles and vegetables earlier this week. In went the tasty vegetable juice and a frozen dinner of Cheesy Broccoli and Rice. My next big find was Fresh Okra. With the Okra in I placed a lid on the dinner turned off the fire and left the kitchen.

My wife and I were an hour away from wanting dinner and I wanted all the flavors to marry in the pot. When I returned the pot still had excessive liquid. Back to the freezer and my final ingredient was a frozen dinner of Chicken Fried Rice. A little more heat and I had the desired consistency.

Though I was surprised at the amount of Frozen rice items I had used. I did not not find Dry Rice in the cupboard so I used plan B. My Wife has these frozen dinners available for herself when I am not around. I was happy I accomplished adding fresh veggies to small portions of processed Rice dinners. I received a hug for my efforts.

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