Category Archives: food

Recipes, diet, wheat-free, nutrition, cooking and a few guilty pleasures.

Braised Pork & Rainbow Chard


First of all, that package of meat labeled “country style pork ribs” — they are not ribs. They’re not even all that close to the ribs.

I don’t know why they call them ribs. Maybe because they kind of look like short ribs. But it’s a good way to get a decent portion of pork shoulder without having to buy a whole one.

Second, let me tell you about fond. If you know what it is, just stand by for a minute. When you get to the step where you’re taking the cooked meat out of the pot, there’s this residue at the bottom. It can be a dark, gooey liquid or just bits of stuff left behind.

That’s the fond. Its whole name is the French term fonds de cuisine and, unless it’s badly scorched, it is like magic for a sauce, a gravy or whatever this is we’re making.

If you don’t have time for all this and you want to skip to the end, just use some leftover pork roast or pot roast or even shrimp. It’s all about the chard anyway. Heat some oil in a large kettle on the stove. Chop up an onion and a bell pepper. Prep the chard as in step 12. Saute the onion until it starts to soften. Then pick up at step 16.

OK, you may proceed. First, gather your equipment.

cast iron Dutch oven or other large oven-safe pot/baking dish with lid

tongs or meat fork

cutting board

chef’s knife

heat safe plate

pot holders, obviously, unless you are Superman


  • cooking oil
  • 2 lb country style pork ribs
  • seasoned salt, pepper and paprika (or whatever salt/spice/herb you like)
  • 1 t ginger paste (optional; can substitute ground ginger)
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 bunches rainbow chard
  • 1-2 cups broth, stock of your choice or water (I used beef stock)
  • 1 T fish sauce (optional)
  • Base: cooked pasta, cheese grits or rice
  • Condiments: chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts, sambal oelek (Indonesian chili paste)


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put a heat-safe bowl of water on a separate rack in the oven. This will help keep the meat from drying out.

2. On the stovetop, heat 2-3 T. oil.

3. While oil is heating, remove pork from package and place on cutting board. Salt and pepper all sides and rub with paprika or whatever.

4. When oil starts to shimmer, add ginger paste and garlic and cook for about a minute.

5. Add pork and sear on all sides to a nice brown crust, 1-2 minutes per side. Lower heat if meat starts to scorch.

6. While pork is browning, wipe off cutting board and cover with a couple of paper towels.

7. When pork is ready, remove from pot and drain on paper towels. Leave pot on hot burner and do not turn off the stove.

8. Loosen fond slightly at the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add a little oil if you need to, about 1-2 T. Add half the chopped onion and stir to coat. Then put the pork back in the pot, on top of the onion.

9. Pour in 1 c. stock.

Pause for a moment to give thanks for the fond. If you’ve used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, this is a magical moment. Just appreciate the sound, the smell and the way it looks when the fond melts into the stock and sizzles to the surface. This is my favorite thing in cooking.

10. Turn off the stove, cover the pot and put in the oven for an hour. Check every 30 minutes or so and add stock as necessary to keep meat from drying out. Add water to that bowl on the other rack if it’s all evaporated.

11. While meat is cooking, rinse off cutting board. Wash, seed and dice bell pepper.

12. Separate stems from the chard leaves and discard any tough stems or yellowed leaves. Wash stems and leaves under running water and pat dry. Slice stems into 1″ pieces and chop or tear leaves into mouth-sized pieces.

Helpful tip: you can leave all these vegies on the counter while the meat is cooking unless you have dogs like Salvador and Lenny. They will eat anything. So you might need to put your vegies in the fridge until step 14.

13. After the meat has cooked for an hour, reduce oven temp to 275. Then check every 20-30 minutes to see if the meat is tender. Uncover to reduce the stock if there’s too much (more than 1 to 1.5 cups). Otherwise, add more stock if you need to and replace the lid.

14. When meat is FINALLY done, remove from the pot with tongs and put on the plate to rest. Put the pot back on the stovetop burner and turn on high. When stock begins to bubble, add the rest of the chopped onion and braise until it begins to soften.

15. Meanwhile, pull or cut meat into bite-sized pieces if desired.

16. Add the bell pepper and the chard stems to the onion in the pot and toss together. Braise for a minute or two longer.

17. Then add the meat back to the pot.

18. Stuff as much of the chard leaves as you can into the pot. You might have to do this in batches.

Cover the pot and turn heat to medium-low and cover.

Every 2-3 minutes, stir the pot to move the wilted leaves to the top until all the leaves have been braised. It doesn’t take long.

This is a good place to check for seasoning, add what you need, including a tablespoon of fish sauce.

19. Plate your food by ladling onto a bed of hot pasta, cheese grits, rice or nothing. Add a dollop of sambal, a sprinkle of cilantro and a spoonful of peanuts.

20. Dig in. Don’t burn your tongue.


Curry Tikka Soup


I’m doing this quasi-keto thing, experimenting with a new product I found at Sprouts. I didn’t like my first pass with it so I added some things. I’m happy now. Really wish I had some warm naan to go with but I’ll save that for Splurge Day.

Now I was completely prepared not to like riced cauliflower. But I’m amazed at what a great substitute it is for regular rice, at least in this dish. Actually, I think this soup would be marvelous over grits but that’s another recipe.

1 package (4-5) fresh skinless boneless chicken thighs
1 large yellow onion
1 jar Maya Kaimal Tikka Masala Indian Simmer Sauce
1 package frozen riced cauliflower, steamed, buttered and Season-All’d
1 c heavy cream (I actually used a can of Nestle Media Crema)
1 c sliced mushrooms, sauteed
1 t green curry paste
olive oil
cilantro garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a large baking dish with oil.

Wash and pat dry chicken thighs, dice into large chunks.
Peel and dice onion into large chunks.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet on the stovetop. Add chicken to brown, turning once. Season with salt, pour into baking dish and set aside.

Add onion to hot skillet and sauté until translucent. Spread evenly over chicken.

Pour simmer sauce over chicken and onion and cover dish with lid or foil. Bake 45 minutes/until tender. Remove from oven.

Strain chicken and onion from dish. Pour hot simmer sauce into medium saucepan. Return chicken and onion to dish.

Stir green curry paste into hot simmer sauce until well blended, then add cream. Heat just to simmer. Stir in sauteed mushrooms. Pour mushroom sauce evenly over chicken and onions and fold together.

Scoop a mound of cauliflower into a large soup bowl and ladle chicken and sauce over the top. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with warm naan bread or accompany as you wish. Or not.

Serves 3-4.

Retail Reverie

Retail Reverie

I couldn’t get it all at Kroger, so I went to Walmart. I was just too tired to shop two stores.

It was like entering a church. People were solemn. I’d call it a skeleton staff for a Friday evening, more checkouts closed than open. Some of the produce bins were empty, no potatoes or onions left.

I didn’t care. Whatever I bought I’d have to carry upstairs and my feet hurt. So I stuck to my very short list. I was done in no time.

Checking out, though….

Paper products used to be here. Wonder how long these shelves have been bare. — at Walmart Cordova.

The lines were 15 deep. Carts were as full as folks could get them. Then a lane opened up on the opposite side of the store. I headed that way as nonchalantly as I could, not wanting to set off a stampede.

My cashier’s name is Judy. She would not make the cut at Aldi. She bagged every single item as if it were a carton of eggs. She’s older than me and she has osteoporosis. She should be at home in a big soft chair.

This concrete floor is getting harder by the minute. I do some stretches next to my cart, which I have placed strategically to keep the customer behind me from breathing down my neck.

This is not new behavior for me. My personal space just has a much bigger radius in Walmart.

“Customer needs assistance in fragrances,” the intercom says.

I guess it’s important to smell good in a crisis. The shopper behind me, who is still close enough for me to hear, says something about needing perfume when the toilet paper runs out.

The woman in front of me is wearing a white wig that is in braids down her back. Over that she has a rasta-looking slouchy hat. A few minutes ago she was in a good mood, chatting on her phone. But now her debit card has been declined.

Suddenly I inhale a cloud of perfume. I guess that customer got their assistance. Must have tried every tester on the counter.

I really need to cough. But I read somewhere elbows are no good. Now we’re supposed to cough into a tissue. No more elbows. But I don’t have a tissue, just a grimy hoodie sleeve. So I cough into my armpit. Maybe I’ll start a trend.

The woman with braids has been digging into her bag for at least two minutes, sliding coins across to Judy, who has sat down on a stool to wait. I’ll bet Judy’s feet hurt, too. I step forward.

“How much do you need, honey?” I ask.

Her smile has some teeth missing and it is sheepish but genuine, grateful for my concern. She apologizes.

“That’s OK,” I reply and pat her shoulder. “We’re all just doing the best we can.”

She pulls her cart away in triumph but not before thanking everyone in the queue for their patience.

“Hi, Judy,” I greet the cashier as I pull out my credit card.

I’m glad I have a credit card. I’m glad there’s money on it. I take the bags as she fills them and pull my card from the machine.

“You have a good evening,” she says as I walk away.

I know it will be better than hers. I get to go home now and say hello to what’s left of my toilet paper.

Quinoa-Kale Salad with Lemon-Dill Dressing


I wish I could take credit for dreaming this one up. It’s actually a knockoff from a restaurant I’m boycotting (poor service). I really tried to hang with them for this salad. But I’m happier making my own.

My daughter introduced me to this salad as I was restructuring my diet pre-surgery. It’s packed with anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

This salad is a good keeper. The small seedless cucumbers don’t become watery like their larger seeded sisters. Baby kale is easier to digest and chopping it actually releases more nutrients. So you end up with a compact bed of greens that oxidize much slower.

Finally, most of these ingredients can be purchased ready to eat, cutting way down on prep time. As a fibro warrior, that’s also really important: saves spoons.

This makes enough salad for me for 3-5 days. If you plan to keep it longer, omit the cucumbers and add them fresh at serving time.


  • One 5-oz. package of ready-to-eat organic baby romaine
  • One 5-oz. package of ready-to-eat organic baby kale
  • Four mini seedless cucumbers
  • One envelope of Success Boil-in-Bag Tri-Colored Quinoa
  • 2 T. DeLallo Simply Pesto®, Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil & Cheese
  • 1/2 c feta cheese crumbles
  • 1/2 c. organic sliced raw almonds


  • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 t. dried dill weed
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. black pepper


  1. Boil the bag of quinoa according to instructions on the box. When cool, empty into a small bowl and toss with the pesto. Set aside.
  2. Chop kale, romaine and cucumbers and transfer to a large bowl or kettle.
  3. Toss with lemon-dill dressing to taste.
  4. Add cooled quinoa and toss again.
  5. Top with almonds and feta.

The glucosinolates found in kale are utilized for DNA repair and help prevent cancer and slow the growth of cancer cells.

Along with the antioxidants found in romaine, the leafy green may also protect the body from cancer through its high folate content.

A study, published in 2015 in Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, found that individuals who consumed higher quantities of peanuts, walnuts, and almonds had their risk of breast cancer reduced by 2–3 times.

Quinoa contains a number of bioactive compounds, including polyphenols, which studies have shown can reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It also has a high concentration of protein and essential amino acids.

Cucumbers contain high levels of nutrients known as cucurbitacins, which may help prevent cancer by stopping cancer cells from proliferating and surviving.

Blue Apron Salad


One of the nicest things I did for myself in 2017 was to sign up with Blue Apron. Meals are for two, which means I get great leftovers, too. Unless it’s a shrimp entree. There are no leftover shrimp in my house. Ever.

It’s been just too hot for frying or roasting this week. So I made soup with some of my latest shipment and put the rest in this charm tomato & fresh corn salad.

I’m having it for lunch today on a bed of balsamic-dressed romaine with dried cranberries and almonds (and one wandering cashew).

8 yellow charm tomatoes, quartered
2 ears of corn, blanched and cut off the cob
2 carrots, sliced
2 ribs of celery, sliced
1 Kirby cucumber, sliced
4 garlic chives, thinly sliced

Toss with this dressing:

1 T olive oil, 2 T rice wine vinegar, 1 T sugar

Serves 4-6, depending on how you roll.

Desperation Bars


Desperation Bars are good enough to make on purpose. But I invented them in a desperate attempt to treat a severe chocolate deficit, using whatever I had on hand.

These are surprisingly chewy and stick to your teeth so keep a hot cup of coffee handy. Or make them without the marshmallows. But they won’t be nearly as much fun.

First, clean out your pantry. Put everything back except for:
* half a bag of stale marshmallows
* a jar of marshmallow creme
* half a stick of butter
* handful of whole toasted almonds
* 1 cup of shredded coconut
* 1 cup oat-walnut meal* (if you’re not avoiding gluten you can sub graham cracker or cookie crumbs)
* 1 can of condensed milk
* 1 jar Nutella

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9″x 13″ baking pan with cooking spray, being sure to coat well the corners and edges.

If you have to stay tidy, just give it up now. Everything is going to be sticky by the time you’re done.

Melt the marshmallows, marshmallow creme and butter in a bowl in the microwave, stirring frequently. Scoop up the pieces that inflate themselves onto the turntable and eat them. Don’t burn your mouth. Give up trying to completely melt the marshmallows and leave big hunks in the bowl.

In the meantime, roughly chop the almonds and toss in a bowl with the coconut and oat-walnut meal*. Stir in the condensed milk and spread evenly in the baking pan.

Spread the marshmallow goo over this. Then spread the Nutella over the goo.  You don’t have to use the entire jar but what the heck.

Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes. Take out and cool 10-15 min before cutting into bars. Sit on your hands or go outside if you have to. The chocolate aroma in the house is killing you by now.

Desperation Bars

the globs of unmelted marshmallow turn into bumps of gluey caramel

Store in a cool, dry place or refrigerate if you don’t eat the entire batch in one sitting.

Makes 16 *extremely* chewy bars.

*Oat-Walnut Meal:  put equal parts oats and walnuts in a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs.

Caramel Cinnamon Apple Tart




This is an all-calorie creation.
Do not look for carb substitutes here.
This is for when your sweet tooth is really aching.

I like to make this in a deep baking dish — less likely to bubble over in the oven.

Also, my pie crust box said to put in an ungreased dish but it stuck after baking so next time I’m prepping with cooking spray.


1 9″ pie crust (make your own or use refrigerated premade)
2 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin (I used Fujis)
1/4 c flour
1/2 c sugar
dash salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 jar caramel ice cream topping, heated until pourable
Aluminum foil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Center your pie crust in a glass baking dish or a deep dish pie plate.
If the crust is too big just let the edges hang over the sides.

Put sliced apples in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon.
Pour over apples and stir until each slice is well coated.
Spread apples evenly over pie crust.
Drizzle first with melted butter, then with caramel topping.

At this point, if you have pie crust hanging over the sides of your dish, just fold the edges over the top of the filling.

Cover with foil.
Bake for 20-30 min or until crust is brown.

Serves at least 4 if you’re polite.

Crunchy Oat Bars


I’m never hungry in the morning. I’d always rather have breakfast for supper. Give me coffee with milk and I’m good until noon. However, I tend to get foggy by mid-morning, so I try to have a light snack. Nothing tempts me like granola bars, especially in the winter when cold fresh fruit seems like a bad idea.

Satisfying, high in fiber, these are also high in calories, a whopping 300 per bar. The culprit here? The almonds. They’re higher in calories than either the coconut or the condensed milk. You can make a lower calorie bar by eliminating some of the extras and increasing the oats and still have a great snack.

You can substitute any dried fruit, nuts or seeds. This is what I happened to have in my pantry the day I made them. You just want to end up with a sticky ball of dough that isn’t too runny and that presses easily into the pan.


2 c oats
cooking spray
1 c chopped toasted almonds
1 c shredded coconut
1 c raisins
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 can condensed milk

aluminum foil
waxed paper

Preheat oven to 300.
Line 9×12 cookie sheet with foil.
Spread oats evenly and toast for 10 minutes.

Pour oats into bowl to cool.
Set aside foil-lined pan to cool.

Increase oven temp to 350.
Put open can of condensed milk on rack to warm.

Spray cooled foil with cooking spray.

Combine toasted oats, almonds, coconut, raisins and cinnamon.
Slowly pour warmed milk over mixture and stir in completely.

Spread evenly onto greased foil.
Cut length of waxed paper and use to press mixture evenly into pan to edges.

Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and lift bars from pan.
Flip upside down into pan and peel off foil.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes then use pizza cutter into bars.

Allow to cool completely before storing.

Makes 16 bars.

P.S.  They were crunchy coming out of the pan.  After overnight storage in Tupperware, they’re chewy.  I like them either way.


White Bean Chili


white bean chiliThis is another of those recipes that welcomes improv.

If you are lucky enough to live where you can pick up a hot rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, you can have the wings and leg quarters for dinner another time and make this soup with the breast.
Or dice and saute your own boneless breast.

If you have the time and the presence of mind, cook your own Great Northern beans.
But a can of white beans works fine — you can sub cannellini, navy or limas.

A mild yellow onion is my preference here, Vidalias are best but a white onion works.
And you can sub bell pepper (any color) or jalapenos for the chilies.

Add handful of chopped greens (turnip, spinach, kale) if you need green leafies in a meal.
Add a cup of cooked macaroni to tempt the kids.
Throw in some diced cooked carrots for color.  It’s all yum.

I keep ground cumin in my pantry, but if you’re out, no worries. Use chili powder or oregano or basil.  Or not.


1 c diced onion (1 cup)
2 T cooking oil
1 small can chopped green chilies (1/4 cup)
1 T minced garlic (2-3 cloves)

1 entire chicken breast, cooked and diced (2-3 cups)
1 quart cooked beans with broth (1 can beans with broth to make 4 cups)
1 t ground cumin
Salt to taste (1 tsp)

1. Saute first 4 ingredients in a hot kettle until onion is soft.
2. Add next four ingredients, stir and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Serve with hot bread (try the Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread!)

Field Pea Soup


20150330_184435Too tired to grocery shop and not in the mood for fast food, this is what’s for supper tonight. It’s a lighter soup for a warmer evening.

Yes, this soup is almost entirely from cans. But it’s probably still healthier than drive-thru.

indexCanned field peas are hard to find lately. These are *not* blackeyed nor crowder peas, but probably an Austrian winter pea, also known as a dun pea. They are currently my favorite legume and when I see them on the shelf I get half a dozen cans.  I particularly like Allens or Texas Fair.

2 c. sliced smoked sausage
1 c. chopped onion
1 can field peas with snaps
1 can chilies
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
1 t Cajun spice mix
1 t cumin

Saute the sausage and onion together in a small amount of water until the onion is soft. Before lowering heat, add tomatoes and chilies and stir well for a couple of minutes to prevent sticking. Lower heat and add peas, broth and spices. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Do a taste check before adding additional salt or spice. Both the sausage and the peas will add salt and occasionally chilies will add a little fire.

Serves four.