Pauline’s Oriental Green Beans

Yesterday I roasted a chicken and was going to take it as part of my Barter Basket to my physical therapist appointment.  My appointment was cancelled so it became part of our dinner at home.  I had seen this recipe for Forbidden rice and veggie stir-fry on one of the blogs I like to follow and decided that I would make it, with a few changes, for a side dish.  I left out the tofu because I know my guys would not even consider eating that.  They are meat and tater men!  Also, I didn’t have any of the Forbidden rice so I  used brown rice instead.  I felt bad about making changes on a first run through it but I was using what I had.  The final addition to my meal was Pauline’s Oriental Green Beans.

Pauline was a lovely woman I met and became friends with when I live in Washington.  I met her and her husband Chuck at the church I attended.  She was one of those ladies you can’t help but love.  A second grade teacher, petite, quiet spoken, and so loving all the time with a smile that made you want to smile back at her.  She served this green bean dish at a dinner party she had for my ex and myself and our pastor and his family.    I loved it.  When I asked her for the recipe, she gave it to me along with the short story of how she had come to learn to make them.  In a nutshell…she had been taught by her blind Asian lady friend that she had met from church.  And now, she was telling me how to make them.

It is a simple dish with a real punch of flavor.  It also adds a nice bit of color to a plate.    You start out by using about 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil.  Heat over med-high heat and throw in 4 or 5 cloves of garlic.  Cook the garlic until it is soft enough to smash into the oil.   Don’t worry if some of the garlic gets a little crispy…in my opinion those little crispy bits are delicious.

After the garlic is smashed up, throw in a pound of washed trimmed green beans and turn the heat down to medium.  Cook, stirring often, about 5-6 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy-sauce and cook another 4-5 minutes with the lid on, stirring every minute or so.  When I have them available I will throw in a handful of slivered or sliced almonds.  I didn’t have them this time.

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I think it made for a pretty plate of food and everyone ate their fill.  The rice dish was quite yummy and I have lots of the peanut sauce left over so I need to figure out another use for it.  It was wonderful to make this and spend a few minutes remembering my dear friend.  She passed away in July of 2005 after a very short (only about a month) fight with pancreatic cancer.   I am grateful for the recipe…but more grateful for the memories of a fine woman who shared more than the recipe with me…she shared her heart and her love and most importantly, she shared her faith in God with me.  Thank you Pauline, for showing me God through your eyes.

Roasted chicken, Forbidden Rice Veggie Stir-fry and Pauline's Oriental Green Beans.

Roasted chicken, Forbidden Rice Veggie Stir-fry and Pauline’s Oriental Green Beans.

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Comfort foods for Winter

Last week I had a craving for meatloaf that was unstoppable.  I knew what I wanted and how I wanted it to taste.  I wanted savory meatloaf with a creamy mushroom gravy.  I did my shopping on Wednesday on my way home.  There was stormy wintry weather brewing.  I could see it from the grocery store parking lot.

Gathering foodstuffs for a week at home

Gathering foodstuffs for a week at home

I bought all kinds of goodies to cook.  I had already been to the local meat market and bought fresh ground beef, Oregon grown chicken breasts, and a pork loin roast.  Then I went to the Farmer’s Market and loaded up on fresh produce (as much local and organic as I could) and my herbs and spices.  I bought some seeds for doing sprouts.  This will be a new endeavor for me.  I have to find something to grow them in first.  I am hungry for fresh, and also to see something growing!  I am thinking of growing them in the window sill behind the stove, where I look out to the greenhouse area.  Encouragement and motivation!  This was my last stop before home.  A bottle of wine and some dairy products and I would be on my way!

By the time I got home, unloaded all the groceries, started a fire in the woodstove, hauled numerous loads of wood up the stairs, put the groceries all away and finally felt warm, I was pooped.  No meatloaf tonight.  I pulled out some 4 Bean Burner Chili from the freezer and heated that up!  Perfect food for a cold wintry night.  When I went down to close up the coop, a mere hour after arriving home, there was 1/2″ of snow on the ground.  I was home for the next 6 days.  Cooking was going to be one of my areas of focus.  But not tonight.  I was heading for bed.

I woke up Thursday with another dratted headache and I was down all day.  I was supposed to be house cleaning at the main house, but I couldn’t even get out of bed for the pain in my head and neck and shoulder.  Dratted all!  I scrounged around and heated up a slice of Quiche Lorraine from the freezer.  No meat loaf again!  I want this food so badly, my mouth just literally drools as it imagines the satisfying goodness of the flavors imagined!  The snow flew off and on all day long.  I was only out long enough to provide warm water for the girls, collect their eggs, and lock them up at night.  Each trip down I hauled up a few pieces of firewood.  It is a constant effort to keep the house warm.

This was what I woke up to on Friday morning!  Beautiful

This was what I woke up to on Friday morning! Beautiful

Friday arrives, snow flying still.  It is so pretty out here.  I head to work…carefully picking my way across the frozen icy path to the main house.  I am greeted by the dogs, barking and charging out the door to greet me.  M&E are enjoying a late breakfast at the table as we all discuss the weather, keeping the fires going in the woodstoves, chickens, food…and my desire for meatloaf.  I am determined to have meatloaf for my dinner I tell them.  Savory meatloaf with mushroom gravy! Between lunch break, a break to feed the girls some oatmeal, and problems with the vacummn cleaner, it was 6:30 before I hopped a ride in the handy farm golf cart for a ride up the hill!  I was pooped!

I stoked the fire, poured a glass of wine and sat down for a minute.  The Christmas tree was still standing, fully decorated.  And I had a house full of food to cook.  And I NEEDED to have meatloaf.  I put on some tunes, turned on the Christmas tree lights, and set out to fulfill my taste buds dreams!  The chores would wait.  But I could wait no longer for the object of my desire.

The picture of the finished product does NOT do it justice.  But….the first bite!  EXACTLY what I had been dreaming of.  Now how often does that happen?  A dream come true?  Yes, for me, this combination and way of preparing meatloaf was the epitomy of what I had lusted after for days!

The object of my desires...Savory Meatloaf with Mushroom gravy

The object of my desires…Savory Meatloaf with Mushroom gravy

Here is the recipe as I recall it being put together.  I am calling it Savory Meatloaf with Mushrooom Gravy (Gluten Free)

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Meatloaf:

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef

1/2 green pepper chopped

1/2 red pepper chopped

1 egg

1/4 c. ground tortilla chips

1/2 c. organic oatmeal

3/4 chopped crimini mushrooms

1 teas. worchestershire sauce

3 Tbspns cooked chopped bacon bits (something I keep on hand.Cook up 1 lb and chop, store in container in fridge for up to a month)

1 teas. sage

1 teas. rosemary

Mix all ingedients well in large bowl.  Set bowl in fridge until gravy is ready.

Gravy:

1 1/2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms

3 cloves garlic chopped

2 tbspns. organic unsalted butter

2 tbspns. oatmeal flour

1 teas. fresh rosemary chopped

1/2 teas. fresh ground pepper or to taste

2 cups beef broth

1/2 teas. worchestershire sauce

1/2 teas. kitchen Bouquet

1/4 c.  cream

Heat butter in cast iron skillet.  When just beginning to brown add mushrooms.  Cook while stirring about 4 minutes on medium, then add garlic and cook additional minute.  Add flour and rosemary and pepper.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until flour browns.  Put worchestershire sauce and ktichen Bouquet in broth.  Add broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well to prevent lumps and scraping all the goodies off the bottonm of the pan.  Keep cooking until gravy begins to thicken, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in cream.

Pour 1/2 the gravy into the bottom of a 9×9 pan.  Form meatloaf on top of gravy.  Pour the rest of the gravy over the top!  Bake in preheated oven for about 75 minutes.  Check after 60 minutes.  I like mine done!  I drained all the fat off into a aluminum foil bowl after removing it from the oven.  The fat comes off but the yummy gravy tidbits stick!

I couldn’t wait for the roasted veggies I had prepared.  I had to have a bite of that meatloaf.  It smelled like I had dreamt it would.  It looked pretty close to what I had envisioned (I think I would do this in a loaf pan next time).  The taste test….PERFECT!!!  I had done it!  A meatloaf to write about!   A meatloaf to make again.  And again!

BTW…there are a couple packages of this in the freezer now, for days when I can’t cook and have a craving!!!  And this is definately a meatloaf that lovers will crave!

The freezer after a cooking weekend

The freezer after a cooking weekend

A couple packages of meatloaf for a day I have a craving!

A couple packages of meatloaf for a day I have a craving!