Southern Tomato Gravy ~ a classic

A Tomato gravy

Savory and not widely known today ~

 

I’ve been on the Mediterranean Diet-ish plan for quite a while. I say “ish” because I use their food pyramid as a tool. I’m not fanatical about it. And I don’t restrict myself to Mediterranean recipes. Last week I made a huge pot of rustic American vegetable soup. This week I made rice and beans with veggies (onion, fresh tomato, and green pepper). I’m big on fresh veggies and usually add more than the recipe calls for.

I’ve been serious about restricting beef, butter, and sweets which are at the top of the Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid (squeezed into that tiny peak). That means what’s allowed is one serving of beef (6 oz), one serving of butter (1 Tbs), one small serving of sweets (candy, ice cream, baked/unbaked deserts) every two weeks. And margarine isn’t even on the pyramid, probably because it’s very questionable health-wise.

However, autumn is here and it’s time to start making hot cereal. I usually have a bowl of organic oatmeal for breakfast with organic raisins (if the supermarket has organic raisins in stock. Other wise I use regular raisins…I’m not an organic fanatic), or I’ll have a bowl of grits.  I eat a good deal more oatmeal than grits because grits is a ‘white’ grain and white foods aren’t favored. Most nutritionists agree, the more color the better. Another strike against grits is that traditionally a huge chunk of butter is stirred in at the table along with salt and pepper. Off and on, I’ve had cholesterol issues and that’s why I’m serious about restricting red meat and saturated fats. Ah, but I love grits.

How to eat grits without butter. The answer is Southern Tomato Gravy. Southern grandmothers made this savory gravy with tomatoes from their gardens they’d canned. My recipe uses store bought canned tomatoes, and I use organic ones. Even though I’ve been talking about grits, Winn Dixie’s bakery had gorgeous biscuits. So, I bought some and slathered tomato gravy on them. Delish. Trust me I made enough tomato gravy to have some on grits later in the week.

A Biscuits

SOUTHERN TOMATO GRAVY

Ingredients: 3 Tbs grapeseed oil (or another vegetable oil, not olive oil), 3 Tbs all purpose flour, 1 1/2 C chicken broth, 1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Optional: real bacon bits.

Directions: In a fairly large skillet warm the oil and whisk the flour into it, stirring constantly until the flour becomes ‘mooshy’ and golden brown. Then pour the chicken broth in, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes smooth (no lumps), add the salt and pepper and the undrained diced tomatoes. If you have no dietary restrictions, add the real bacon bits here, if you like. Simmer 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve over grits, biscuits, even over scrambled eggs (or on the side). If, like me, you have heath issues and are cutting way-way down on butter and sugar, you can even slather tomato gravy on a couple of pieces of multi-grain toast and eat it with a knife and fork for breakfast.A Soup

 

The American-style rustic vegetable soup I made last week.

 

ribbon pink

In HARMFUL INTENT, gal private eye Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels goes undercover taking a gourmet healthy cooking class and that changes her out look on food. Sheriff’s deputy Dawson Hughes enjoys her cooking and everything about her, but remains a meat and potatoes man. All the while they are hunting a viscous killer and things are not what they seems in west Texas.

Harmful Intent 400 P

 

SASSY PANTS LEARNS TO TAKE CARE OF OTHERS by Carol Brown ~ a review

A Sassy Pants

 

From escape artist to protector

This children’s book for grades 1 – 3 charmed me. It’s the perfect book for an adult to read to or with children. The story opens on Farmer White’s woodsy little farm, a place where animals with frazzled nerves to come and heal. On this farm, the animals seem almost human.

Miss Merino, a wise sheep, tells stories that have lessons for the young barnyard animals. These stories explore values and give lessons about fences, boundaries, and rules. And so she begins telling a story about Sassy Pants, who was once a young rebellious piggy.

Sassy Pants begins life as a teeny piglet in Farmer White’s and Mrs. White’s big house where she has a great feeling of belonging. When she gets old enough, she’s brought to the pig pen on the farm where her mother and her father Boss Hog live. She’s intimidated by Boss Hog’s scary looking tusks and his mean sounding deep voice. Sassy Pants wants to go back to the big house and becomes a little escape artist…unaware there are wild predatory animals beyond the fence in the nearby forest who would love to eat a little piggy.

In addition, she becomes a bully to other animals at the farm and is rude and disrespectful to Boss Hog (her dad). In the section titled “The Last Amend” Sassy Pants apologizes to Boss Hog and they forge a new father-daughter relationship. She also begins doing helpful deeds for other animals at the farm. Her dad has been walking the fence for years and telling Farmer White if there are any weakness that would allow wild predators inside. One day he takes her with him to walk the fence because he feels her former fence escape artist tactics (skills) would make her the perfect one to take over for him in walking the fence as he is getting older.

My favorite part of the story is when her dad wants to change her name to Petra, the rock. She no longer feels like the escape artist, disrespectful little piggy. She feels transformed into a new creature, so she agrees to the name change.

Purchase SASSY PANTS LEARNS TO TAKE CARE OF OTHERS on Amazon

Angels & Imperfection by Dan Arnold ~ a review

Angels Imperfection

Not angelic. He’s quite imperfect.

This is an unusual mystery/thriller in that the novel is a series of cases, some of them unrelated to the main story line. However, each case whether related to the plot line or not fleshes out the main character, and John Wesley Tucker is not your run-of-the mill private investigator. He’s a devout Christian who sees himself as a shepherd for the Lord here on earth…though in many cases a flawed one. He can rush into a fight almost on impulse, is quite capable of packing a punch, and is not afraid to use a fire arm.

Tucker is hired to do a background check by a powerful and wealthy oil man who has political aspirations and immediately is attracted to the man’s beautiful employee. He asks Christine out on a date which enrages and prompts the oil man’s personal assistant to make unwanted advances toward her. Christine resigns and not long after Tucker hires her as his receptionist. By mutual agreement, their relationship becomes one of employer to employee and they begin to develop a deep friendship. Christine doesn’t believe in God and Tucker witnesses to her. My only criticism of this engaging novel is some of the witnessing dialog goes on too long and interrupts the movement and pacing of the story line. I think it would have been better to cut up the apologetics and sprinkle it throughout the story.

The main characters are highly likeable, and I rooted for them. Secondary character Detective Sergeant Tony Escalante, and Tucker’s best friend, is also likeable and one of the good guys. Tucker pays attention to the rambling of Dustin, a homeless guy with mental issues who seems to be in touch with the supernatural world, and this helps the P.I. solve a child abduction case. The bad guys are truly incorrigible, very dangerous, and they move the mystery forward as they maneuver selfishly to satisfy their dark desires. And their desires are truly evil. This is a novel of good vs. evil. #ChristFic #Cleanread

Purchase Angels & Imperfection on Amazon

Does It Matter What You Eat ~ during chemo?

A roast chickenIt matters what you eat during chemo.

I was told, “It doesn’t matter what you eat during chemo. Eat whatever you want, whatever you can get down.” But I found that only lead to constipation which lead to exhaustion which lead to depression. Oh how I fought that depression and won. So, yes, it does matter what you eat during chemo. Very much so.

Isaiah 55:2b ~ Listen carefully to me:
    Eat what is good, and enjoy the best foods. ~ God’s Word Translation [GW]

I was pretty healthy going into chemo, so I wasn’t having a lot of the side-effects many cancer patients face. And, here’s the real biggie, I’d given my side-effect to God, and I feel he took them. Now chemo has not, repeat, has not been a walk in the park for me. They were, pouring big-time toxins into my veins…very serious, big-time toxins that kill the cancer. But the rest of my body was screaming, “HELP!!!”

I’d not only given my side-effects to God, I’d given my entire treatment to God. Let my doctor and medical staff handle that. They went to school for it. I zoomed in on the spiritual (healing study, prayer, etc.) with the Holy Spirit right next to me. And I zoomed in on the nutrition of healing with the Holy Spirit right next to me. As many can tell, this blog is aimed at Christians, mostly aimed at blood bought, full-gospel Christians. Worldwide, there are more than 30,000 Christian denominations. So, some Christians will identify with what I write more than others, some pretty much not at all. I also have a nonChristian following. Maybe because I’m not condemning. I present my spiritual and nutritional cases in a Biblical context and let them speak for themselves. I don’t condemn Christian who believe differently than I do, and I don’t condemn nonChristians. Jesus called believers to love. In fact, I have quite a large following in India…Christian, non-Christian, I don’t know. Hi, India.

So, after I tried the ‘I could eat anything I wanted during chemo’ theory with sad results, I went on a pretty strict Mediterranean-ish Diet. I say “ish” not because I wasn’t on the diet, I didn’t restrict it to foods found only in the Mediterranean. If the recipe from a country not bordering on the Mediterranean Sea had no food elements that were off the diet I’d include it. Ukrainian Summer Borscht is an example. I’m not a Food-Nazi. I will not look at what you’ve got on your plate…even if it’s all made from chemicals. However, for me, they are pouring enough toxic chemicals into my body to kill the cancer. I won’t add toxic chemicals the food companies put in so they can sell year-round and transport the items all year long in airplanes, ships, and trucks. I personally won’t do that.

I cook most of my food from scratch, but not all. Increasingly, super markets and even some smaller markets sell healthy organic foods, some already prepared (salsa, salad dressings, etc.) There are also some pretty healthy frozen foods out there from all types of food companies. You have to read the label. If it has a string of unreadable, unpronounceable chemical ingredients, I won’t buy it.

Because of copyright laws I can’t post a Mediterranean Diet Food Map, but I can give a link to Wikipedia’s food map and their article on the Mediterranean Diet.

ribbon pink

In HARMFUL INTENT, Brooklyn (NYC) gal private-eye finds herself in Texas where she is the prime suspect of the stalwart sheriff’s deputy in the murder of her cheating husband. She knows the real murderer has something to do with the local high-end health spa. So, she takes a health food/organic cooking class with the spa’s nutritionist and it tonally changes how she looks at food. But will it help her catch the killer?

Harmful Intent 400 P

God Loves Beauty ~ that’s why He made you

flower garden

I’m a huge Genesis lover

 

8 And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, Eden, and there He placed the man whom He had formed. 9 Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowldge of good and evil. 10 Now a reiver flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it devided and became four rivers. Genesis 2:8-10 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

I believe the Lord God planted a gorgeous garden for Adam and Eve, a garden so luscious in its magnificent beauty we can’t even imagine it. This proves to me that God loves beauty. Beauty and goodness, and kindness, and love was His original idea. And that was also His original idea when He planted each of us in our mother’s womb. He had not changed his mind about us. In His sight we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

The thing is, He gave humans free will. He did not want to be loved by a bunch of robots. He did not desire to be loved and obeyed by billions of ‘stepford people’. He wanted us to chose to love Him. He wanted us to see that His way for us is best. It leads to peace, oh and how humans need peace, God’s peace, the real peace…it leads to kindness…to love, the real love (not Hollywood transient romance, not fair-weather friends), God’s deep and abiding love.

It’s through God’s perfect love that we see how beautiful we are. As believers we are called to know how eternally beautiful we are.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth Psalm 96:6. [King James Version, KJV]

The beauty of holiness is a different kind of beauty than the world offers. It’s an inside beauty. It start with one’s character, a loving nature, and one with kindness, but also with a sense of self-worth. I want to point out that “fear before Him” means to have deep and awesome reverence for Him.

We, believers, are children of the Most High God, and that’s something very big indeed. The beauty of holiness shines through our eyes and a genuine, caring smile. It’s transformative. When your eyes shine with warmth and your smile is the real deal, people see you as beautiful. And you yourself feel your genuine worth and you take better care of your body, and your health, and your presentation. You are presenting as a child of the most High now. Not any old thing will do, not any old sloppy way of going into the world is right anymore because truly…YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL

A woman worshiping

 

ribbon pink

Brookyn PI Veronica “Ronnie” Ingles has beauty and self-worth issues and it doesn’t get better when he husband leaves her for another woman. In HARMFUL INTENT, Ronnie finds herself in Texas (what’s a Brooklyn girl doing in Texas?) where her husband is murdered and the stalwart, coffee loving sheriff’s deputy has her as his prime suspect.

Harmful Intent 400 P

My New Pressure Cooker ~ also a slow cooker

Impulse purchase, but a good decision.

I had no thought yesterday of purchasing a pressure cooker while shopping at Walmart. However, the price was GREAT and there was only one left on the shelf. Nuff said.

Now mind, I have a pressure cooker, a classic T-fal that I’m leery of using only because I don’t use it often enough to be skilled at it, and they can be dangerous. I have it on my list to donate of a local thrift shop that supports several shelters for abused women in the city.

Of course the first thing I did, even before I unpacked the pressure cooker was to look at the enclosed recipe booklet…only a few recipes. However, the Chicken Cacciatore recipe caught my eye. It looked pretty authentic. The list of ingredients was exactly the same as my husband’s godmother’s recipe. We called her Aunt Anna.

To me this is really what cooking is about. The sharing of recipes, the enjoyment of the process of cooking, eating with family and/or friends, and having food centered memories. All good. Well…Aunt Anna made her own from-scratch marinara sauce. She might’ve used canned tomatoes, but in season she used fresh tomatoes for her sauce, and it took hours to cook. In Brooklyn (NYC) they have green grocers in all residential neighborhoods where you can get  fresh produce. Aunt Anna liked to make fresh marinara for Sunday dinner.

On the Sundays we were going to eat at her house, we’d go to Mass with her, then take her out for breakfast at the local Greek diner. After that, she’d cook and we’d watch TV until dinner was on the table. She always went out to the green grocer looking for a few pounds of ripe tomatoes on Saturday. With all the settings, bells and whistles on the pressure cooker, a fresh marinara sauce that took Aunt Anna hours to make can be made in about 30 minute. And I like that.  And I like remembering Aunt Anna and her excellent Sunday dinners.

If you like foodie fiction you might like to try HARMFUL INTENT, a fast moving murder mystery with wit, humor, and it’s also uplifting.