Category Archives: 2013

Basic Recipes: Pt 4, Soups that stick to your ribs; not your belly.

Soups that stick to your ribs; not your belly

picctue of soup

Hearty soups, like this sweet potato-onion puree, can be made without heavy cream.

During a cold-spell, hearty stews and creamed soups are just what the doctor ordered to keep us warm… inside. But what about the weight gain that shows on the outside. Fat, butter and heavy cream were often used as a soup or stew base eons ago when men were laying railroad tracks by hand and putting in 16 hour days. Now, many of us do not need that many calories so the excess is stored in fat cells. By using a few simple tricks you can prepare and enjoy hearty soups and still not consume as many calories. There are two ways to do this. Continue reading

Basic Recipes: Home-made Spice Mix

Your local Community Co-op carries a wide choice of bulk organic foods, including fresh spices and herbs. Search this directory to find  one in your area. 


Why would you want to use a spice mix?

  • picture of spices

    Our Spice Rack. Keep spices sealed tightly in 2 oz. bottles or 8 oz. jars.

    There would be no need to have 50 different herbs & spices in your cupboard.

  • There would be no need to have 25 different herbs and spices plus a substitution chart in your cupboard.
  • You would be able to have just a few spice mixes in your cupboard.
  • Your spice mixes would usually be fresh and flavorful, especially if purchased at your local food co-op. They replenish the bins often.
  • Spice mixes are easy to make and use.

Italian and Tex-Mex are very common spice mixes for Mediterranean and Southwest cuisine and available in most stores.  You may need to find a specialty grocer for Asian five spice, Chaat Masala and Cajun spice mixes. You will need to make your own “Herb Bouquet” because it is my variation of Herbemare.

Continue reading

Basic recipes: Pt.3 Spicy Soups

Asian hot and sour soup uses peppers and vinegar to liven up a pork base.

Asian hot and sour soup uses peppers and vinegar to liven up a pork base.

Mention the word “soup” and everyone pictures a different one in their mind. Try it in a group sometime and you’ll be amazed.  After all, “soup” is just a liquid food with three basic ingredients: broth (stock), solid adornments, and spices.  There are thousands of variations and that is what makes soup-making so much fun. Each time soup is made, it seems different.  Read more about spices for soup and which goes with which base. Continue reading

Basic Recipes: Sublime Soups Pt 2

Cream-based soups will be  a topic for Part 4.

Cream-based soups will be a topic for Part 5.

Few foods are more satisfying than good ole home-made soup. Once you are comfortable with using real food  to assemble soups you may never resort to opening a soup can or package again.

To make sublime meat soup,

follow the same recipe for turkey stock as described in Part 1 of this series. Pork, beef, ham and whitefish bones (plus their meat trimmings) can likewise be simmered in water, along with spices and celery to make the base for an unlimited variety of creations. Read more about making sublime vegetable stock. Continue reading

Substitute spices and herbs



Is it OK to substitute Parsley for Cilantro? Or put another way, do we need to follow a recipe exactly as written? A good chef or wine steward will taste and adjust as they finish their creation.



They know that spices and herbs vary in their intensity and flavor because of different growing conditions, storage method and age. And, while  cooking, flavors can overpower others so recipes invariably need to be adjusted to pass your taste test.

I know that’s an answer you did not want to hear. Busy cooks want to set it and forget so let me give you an example to clarify this idea. I watched Paul, one of our FMP instructors, create cranberry sauce last week for the community meal and he kept adding orange zest to the simmering cranberries . He would add more, taste, add more, taste…you get the idea? If asked “How much orange zest is needed?” his answer would be,”About that much.”

So the answer to the parsley/cilantro question depends on the taste you are trying to achieve. Keep that in mind, as you reach for the generally accepted substitutes listed below. Continue reading

Hearty Winter Soup: Pt.1:Start With A Stock

Penne turkey soup was made from a basic soup stock. Simply toss planned-overs into the stock for a hearty treat. (photo by iclipart)

Penne turkey soup was made from a basic soup stock. Simply toss planned-overs into the stock for a hearty treat. (photo by iclipart)

Why would anyone want to make their own soup stock? Choose the best answer:

  • It is budget-friendly – like almost free!
  • Recycles food scraps
  • Filling and aids digestion
  • Flavorful even without the salt or fat
  • Easy to make
  • Nutritious

I choose them all. Continue reading and I will gladly share the full story. Continue reading

Using Planned-Overs: Frozen Dinners


Gabriel and friends cooked for our dinner/auction fundraiser.

It’s so easy to cook extra food and make individual frozen dinners I am surprised that more families do not do it. Last week Gabriel and friends volunteered to cook a Tex-Mex meal for our fundraiser. About one hundred enjoyed the evening but we cooked enough for 150. That makes for a lot of Spanish rice, pulled chicken, salad, chips and beans left over. Continue to see how we used them as unplanned-overs. Continue reading

Top 25 Spices and Herbs


picture of thyme

Thyme, a herb with a unique flavor, can be grown in pot on your porch.

Our Top 25 Herbs and Spices for Recipes.

Taken from our soon-to-be-published book      “$10 Meals for a Family of Six.”

Herbs are the fleshy part of the plant while spices usually come from the seeds, root, stem or bark. But do we really care? We just want to add flavor to our creations.

This list was put together by examining recipes from classic chefs, herb and spice books, plus internet searches. These are the ones most often mentioned. Of course I have included many of my favorites. Don R Continue reading

Let’s Talk Turkey, Pt 5: Using Planned-Overs

pic of cabbage salad with turkey

shredded turkey and cabbage salad is easy to prepare and sooo good!

Let’s Talk Turkey, Pt 5: Using Planned-Overs

By DonR Nov 28. 20113

Cooking once and using planned-overs for several meals is a great way to save time and energy. In fact, because turkeys are on sale this time of year, it pays to grab an extra to freeze. Whole turkeys can help your food budget substantially.

Turkey can be used in lots of ways if you plan ahead. So, now that the turkey is cooked and the planned-overs are sitting safely in the oven at 135+ degrees, what comes next? Cool it quickly, shred it and use it for entrees, soups, salads and sides.

Continue reading

Let’s Talk Turkey: Pt.4 Slow Cooked Turkey Parts.

picture oss cooked turkey

Oven roasted turkey gives a nice brown color.

In Part 3 of “Let’s Talk Turkey,” We described how to safely cook a whole bird. Now, for a simple way to roast your turkey in the oven, go to for a step-by-step tutorial. I hope your turkey turns out looking like their mouth-watering pictures. 

An even simpler way to cook turkey parts is to use a  slow cooker. The result will be moist, juicy turkey legs or breast with lots of stock for gravy or soup. Here is the recipe:

Continue reading