Gramma Willi’s Chili

This is one recipe that I really love. Friends and family are always asking me to make it for big and small gatherings. Easy on the budget and packed with goodness, it’s best when made with love, tastes even better the next day and it freezes well. A special treat served with Corn Bread or Bannock.

2 C. dried kidney beans (substitute pinto, romano, Jacob’s cattle or other big beans, or mix 3 or 4 together)

water

1 or 2 onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic (or 2 tsp. Garlic powder)

oil or fat for frying

1/2 – 1 pound ground beef (or use TVP – see below)

3-4 T. chili powder

2-3 T. cumin

1 T. dried coriander (cilantro), or 1/2 C. fresh

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional, add 2 or 3 times as much for a hot, spicy chili)

dash of cinnamon

large can crushed tomatoes (2 1/2 cups fresh)

1 tsp. brown sugar

2 T. vinegar (white, red wine, apple cider or balsamic)

small can peaches in light syrup (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans in water about 2-3 inches above the beans in a non-metal bowl for 6-8 hours or overnight. Discard the soaking water, add beans to a large pot and cover with fresh water an inch or two above the beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the beans are soft (1 1/2 to 3 hours).

Cook the ground beef (or dry fry the TVP) until nicely browned and crumbled, set aside. Sauté the onions in a little oil until soft, then add cooked beef, garlic and spices and cook covered, for 5 more minutes. Add the meat mixture, tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar and peaches to the beans and stir well. Cover and simmer over low heat for at least an hour to let the flavors blend, stirring occasionally to prevent burning; this is a good recipe to cook all day in a slow cooker or in the oven. Serve over rice.

Suggestions: Vegetarians and Vegans can substitute TVP dry-roasted with cumin for the ground meat to give a meaty texture and lots more protein. Offer crushed red pepper or Tabasco sauce at the table for people who like hot chili.

Hints: The beans will be more digestible if you add a piece of seaweed (kombu or dulse) to the beans while they cook, or you can add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to the soaking water to make the beans less “gassy”.

Time saver: For a quick chili, use 2 or 3 large cans of cooked kidney beans.

Note: Because this is such a good winter meal, we planned to make you a video of this recipe not too long ago when Brian and I were both in Toronto… didn’t work out. We will be getting to that asap, so stay tuned!

Much love, All My Relations, Gramma Willi

Good Clean Food For Everyone!

Magic Muffins

This is a great quick recipe, perfect for those times when you’re being careful with your money or don’t feel like shopping, but need to satisfy a craving for something a little sweet. I give recipes like this the name “magic” because they can be made with a wide variety of ingredients (Magical Options) and they come out a little different every time, depending on what you have in the kitchen…. they’re a nice dessert, a great snack, a quick breakfast and a super gift for friends and neighbours… enjoy!

Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

2-3 Cups Muffin mix and a few Magical Options (see below)

Wet ingredients:

1 C water, 1-2 T cooking oil (or melted margaine or butter) and an extra cup of water

Mix your wet and dry ingredients separately, then make a ‘well’ in the middle of the dry. Add the wet mix to the well, stir it through to coat the dry mix; keep adding water a little at a time until the mixture is moistened all the way through, but not too stiff to stir. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease your muffin tins well. Fill to 3/4 full of muffin batter, bake for 20-28 minutes or until they spring back to the touch and smell just right.

Magical Options (pick a nice combination from below and use your imagination!):

1/2 cup shredded coconut 1/2 C raisins or currants, chopped dates, dried cranberries, papaya, apricots…

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, almonds, walnut or pecans

1 tsp. powdered ginger 1 tsp. cinnamon powder

1 plain chocolate bar, chopped (or 1/2 C chocolate chips, or 2-4 T. cocoa

1 small apple, chopped or 1/2 C blueberries, strawberries

Muffin Mix

1) Store bought mix: you can find cake or muffin mix on sale and add “Magical” stuff from your kitchen

2) Homemade mix: 3 cups flour (or 2 Cups flour and 1 cup oats) 2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt 3/4 C of sugar, or more or less to taste

Suggestions

Fruit Filling: Fill each muffin tin half-way and add 1/2 tsp jam, jelly or soft fruit in the middle. Fill the cups 3/4 full with the muffin batter and bake!

Time Savers:

1) Keep half of the batter in a clean jar in the fridge to make fresh muffins quickly anytime; the batter will keep for 4-7 days.

2) Make a big batch of dry muffin mix and keep it in the freezer – When you’re ready to make muffins, shale out what you need into a big bowl, add your wet ingredients and magical options and bake.

Sweet combinations:

“Fruity” explosion: Add chopped apple and a few raisins and berries to the dry mix; put a spoonful of jam in the middle of 2 layers of batter.

Ambrosia: Add coconut, ginger, cinnamon, almonds and orange essence, diced orange rind or mashed banana.

Gourmet ideas: You can blend a whole orange with the seeds removed into the wet mix, add some chocolate chips or cocoa to the dry and make a nice chocolate orange muffin!) How about lemon, poppy seed and cornmeal?

Savory Combinations: Leave out the sugar and add one or a combination of: Shredded cheese, chopped sundried tomatoes, cooked beans, diced carrot, fried minced onion, celery

Add herbs and spices – chili powder, oregano, rosemary, parsley , olive oil

Rough Times Bacon ‘n’ Egg Muffin: (you’ll never want to stop at a fast food place for breakfast once you’ve tasted these! ) Put a small piece of cooked bacon (vegetarians can use soy bacon), a bit of grated cheese and a spoonful of stirred raw egg in the middle of each muffin, fill the muffin cup with no-sugar batter (you can add a few herbs too!) and add a little grated cheese on top. Bake as usual.

Tip: Don’t have a muffin tin? Well, use a cake pan, a frying pan with a heatproof handle, small tart or other baking dishes – or get to the second hand store and find a nice muffin tin… it’s still probably cheaper than buying those store-bought muffins.

Much Love, Gramma Willi

Good Clean Food for Everyone!

Rough Times Cake

Rough Times Cake

Watch a video of this recipe at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_aMmz_nhhE

This is a simple and not-too sweet cake, sometimes called “Depression Cake”. So easy to make, it is free of eggs or milk, so it’s vegan friendly, easy on the budget and delicious.

Ingredients

2 Cups Raisins

1 Cup Brown Sugar

2 Cups Water

1/3 Cup Margarine

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/8 tsp Nutmeg

1/8 tsp Allspice

2 Cups Flour

1/4 tsp Salt

2 Round Tbsp Baking Powder

Sift dry ingredients together or stir well. Mix the wet ingredients in a big cup or bowl, add to dry mixture to make an easy-to-stir dough. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350ºF for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and dry.

Suggestions: While it’s still warm, spread a thin layer of corn syrup over the top for a nice glazed, elegant-looking cake. Freezes really well if it’s wrapped twice; since it’s such a big cake, I usually freeze half for later). Add nuts, raisins, currants, sweet cranberries, chopped apples or coconut to the dry mix… use mashed bananas, a little less water and make it a banana cake… forget the spice and add chopped strawberries, peaches or blueberries… use less water and a beaten egg or two for a rich texture – there’s no limit when you use your imagination!


Baked Beans

Home Style Baked Beans

Click here for Baked Beans Video recipe

An all-time, slow-cooked favorite with country and city folk alike. It’s amazing how many cultures claim to have the best baked beans – and how mouths can be fed from one little bag of dry beans – this is Rough Times Cooking at it’s finest! To make sure that you get complete protein without eating meat, add a “grain” food to the meal (flour-bread/cookies/pie/cake, rice, corn, etc.). I like to serve mine with Corn Bread or Bannock.

2 cups navy beans soaked in water to cover 3-4 in. above beans, overnight
1 cup molasses
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp. Prepared mustard or 1/2 tsp. Mustard powder
1-2 strips of bacon (or small piece of pork fat) – optional
1 tsp. Salt (added after cooking, so the beans cook nice and soft)

Discard soaking water from beans, add water to cover and cook until almost tender (Hint: adding boiled water at this stage speeds up the cooking.)
Add rest of ingredients, mix well, and place in an oven proof dish. Bake all day or overnight if you can, or at least 3-4 hours. Serve with home made bread or bannock.

Options: Vegetarians can skip the meat entirely and add a little soya sauce, smoke flavoring and/or tomato sauce. Keeping kosher? Use smoked turkey for that nice smoky flavor. Yellow eye or other small, light colored, mild flavored beans work well too.
Hints: Some folks add a teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking water to make them less “gassy” – the beans will cook quicker, but tend to get mushy. I like to put a little piece of dried seaweed (kombu, kelp or dulse) in the soaking and cooking water, and remove it before baking – I find that it makes the beans more digestible too!
If you don’t have time to soak the beans, add them slowly to boiling water, keep them at a rolling boil for 15 minutes, simmer until tender.

Curried Potatoes

A quick and easy recipe, good as a side dish or when you want to treat family or unexpected guests This is a delicious and elegant way to use leftover potatoes. Make it a complete meal by adding some protein food (eggs, mild cheese, tofu, beans-lentils, meat). Don’t forget to serve vegetarian meals with bread or other grain food, so that your body gets enough protein.

4 tsp. curry powder
1 onion, chopped or sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Oil for frying
4 – 5 large cooked potatoes, peeled and cubed
Water to cover

Sauté the onion and garlic in oil on medium heat until soft. Add the spices and gently stir, taking care not to burn.
Add potatoes, coat with the spice mixture, and heat through.

Suggestions: Add finely chopped green onion, sautéed red or green peppers. Grate some mild cheese over all at the end to add protein

Hint: Add more potatoes if you’re serving a crowd or want lots of leftovers.

Ginger Recipes – Good Old Time Medicine

My mother taught me to use ginger to chase away colds and flus and to soothe upset stomach and moon-time pain. I love ginger because it makes your breath smell good, its nice hot taste sure does warm up the body and it makes me and my family feel a lot better. Chopped fresh ginger is a great addition to stir-fry meals and curries.
Recently, my pal Tahnee said she’d like it if I put some of my ginger recipes on this blog.
I did a little research first. Among other sources, I found a great article at the University of Maryland web site (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginger-000246.htm). Many reports stated that ginger is a natural antibiotic, helps digestion, gas, nausea, headaches, arthritis and menstrual pain and is a time-honored remedy for cold and flu symptoms. I also read that for children under 2 yrs. and people on blood thinners, you should ask your doctor before using ginger as a medicine. There were a few reports that using too much ginger will cause stomach ache or diarrhea.

African Ginger Drink
I learned this recipe from a strange and beautiful man that I met in the produce section of a supermarket. We somehow ended up discussing that year’s flu epidemic and prophecies. He claimed that this recipe will cure even the new antibiotic resistant strains of flu. This is what I cook up when a really bad cold or flu hits our friends or relatives; I’ve had many requests for more and for the recipe. Look for ginger that has a nice smooth skin; if it’s wrinkled, then it’s old – still usable, but fresh is definitely best.

a fist-sized piece of fresh ginger (1/2 to 1 lb.)
6 quarts of water – enough to fill a Dutch oven (small stew/spaghetti pot)
2-3 C sugar
Peel the ginger with a spoon (use a small knife to remove lumps) and cut into thin slices. Put the ginger and sugar into the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 4-6 hours, let cool. By this time, you should have a nice, hot-spicy, golden-brown “juice.” You can drink this as is; I drink a half cup a few times a day for colds and flus. If you want a thick syrup, boil it down some more until you can eat it by the spoonful – good for kids.
You can also mix it with orange juice or put it in cake and cookie mixes. My favorite, put a few tablespoons in a regular cup of tea with milk – tastes like India Chai tea – yummy!

Quick’n’Simple Ginger Tea
My Mom gave me this for tummy aches. It works well. Powdered ginger isn’t as strong as fresh, but it will do when it’s already in the cupboard and you don’t want to run to the store.

1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. sugar or honey
1 C. freshly boiled water
Mix in a cup and drink while warm.

Candied Ginger
Also known as crystallized ginger, it takes a few days to make, but it’s worth it because you get a nice juice to drink and use in teas while you’re waiting for the candy to be ready!

2 fist-sized pieces of fresh ginger (1 to 2 lbs.)
6 quarts of water – enough to fill a Dutch oven (small stew/spaghetti pot)
2-3 C sugar

Peel the ginger with a spoon (use a small knife to remove lumps) and cut into thin slices. Put the ginger and 1 C sugar into the pot, bring to a boil turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, let cool. Drain, keeping the ginger water in a jar to use in tea, etc.

Put the ginger back into the pot, fill it with fresh water and add 1 C sugar. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer partly covered for 20 minutes, let cool and let stand overnight.

Bring the pot to a boil and add 1 cup sugar, stir until dissolved, turn heat to low and simmer simmer partly covered for 20 minutes, let cool and let stand overnight.

Bring the pot to a boil, add 1 cup sugar, stir to dissolve and turn heat to low and simmer partly covered for about an hour, stirring often so that the mixture does not burn or stick to the pot. The liquid should be quite thick and almost like a syrup when it’s ready; if it’s thick when runs off the back of a spoon, it’s done. Let cool.

Put the slices of ginger on a rack to dry (6-10 hours or overnight). Coat the dried pieces with sugar, store in an airtight jar; keep the remaining syrup for tea, baking, etc. Should last a few months without refrigeration, longer in the fridge. Eat as a candy, suck and chew it slowly to get the most benefit.

Tips: I travel with candied ginger and use it for upset stomach, if I get symptoms of a cold or flu and to prevent infected people from passing on their germs to me.

A few drops of essential oil of ginger is a sweet-smelling addition to a bath. It is good and warming, helps to chase the chills out of the body and soothe aches and pains.

Corn Bread

Quick to make and soooo good! Make it instead of popcorn for movie night, serve with chili, soups, stews or toasted for breakfast, lunch or snacks. A big hit with old folks, children, teens and the growing numbers of people known as “foodies.”
The following recipe gets you started into the wonderful world of corn bread; you may find yourself surprised at the long history of corn bread, from ancient, old-fashioned and traditional peoples to the settlers in native lands who expanded the uses of this amazingly simple and very nutritious staple food of the ages.

Watch how to make Corn Bread on video!

1 C. corn meal
2 C. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 C. sugar
1 1/2 –2 C. milk or 1/2 milk 1/2 water, or part canned or powdered. (Hey you vegans! – you can replace the milk with plain water and 2 T. cooking oil.)

Mix dry ingredients together, add milk or water, stir well, adding enough liquid so that the mixture is not too thick, like a cake batter. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch baking pan (or pie tin) and bake 35-50 minutes until done (a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean and quite dry). Cornbread should be nicely browned on the sides, but not too brown on top. Great as is, buttered, and with jam for breakfast and snacks.

Suggestions: Add canned corn and/or jalapeño peppers for a Mexican flavor; make it Italian-style with a few finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Add soy flour to the dry mix or grated cheese to the wet for extra protein. For corn cake, increase the sugar, add an egg or two, mix in a little oil or vegetable shortening, beat the batter very well until smooth. I love using frozen berries in my corn “cake-bread” in wintertime. Tastes really great toasted and buttered; try it under poached eggs. Mini cornbread pizza slices? Garlic corn bread? – why not?
Hints: Instead of plastic, use a clean kitchen towel for wrapping leftover corn bread to keep it soft. You can make a double batch and freeze one for later. Great for pot luck suppers and a really nice gift for your favorite friends and neighbors.

Corn kernels remind me of nature’s generosity – so many seeds from one corn cob! Corn plants will grow well with good earth (shred and add last year’s stalks to the earth – nitrogen!) and some care and give you many more seeds to feed many more people. The best whole brown corn husks can be harvested and dried – pull back the husk, tie and hang until the seed kernels are hard, then twist them off and store a non-plastic bag or envelope – want to grow your own popcorn or grind your own cornmeal?
Good seed growing and saving information is easy to find – e.g., check out the Long Island Seed Project. Share and trade your seeds to keep them strong.

~ Sometimes I pray that it becomes impossible to contaminate corn;
I am careful about it. ~

!Vegan! Smothered Tofu “Steak”

This Nolan family favorite is great served over mashed potatoes with some whole grain buttered garlic bread and vegetable side dish. It also tastes great over rice. Be sure to use lots of onion.

1 lb. tofu
2 tsp. ground cumin
soy sauce to taste
2 – 3 onions, sliced in thick strips
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 inch slice of raw ginger, peeled and chopped (or 1/2 tsp. powdered)
oil for cooking
salt and pepper to taste
onion powder to taste
1T chili powder (optional)
1 1/2 – 2 C. water
3-4 T. flour or cornstarch to thicken gravy

Cut tofu in 1/2 inch thick slices and drain by placing slices on a plate with another plate on top, weigh it down with a pot of water and let sit for 15-20 minutes, pour the water off, repeat. Marinate the tofu in cumin and soy sauce, set aside and turn it occasionally.
Heat a frying pan, add some cooking oil, and sauté the tofu until well browned. Set aside.
Cook onion and garlic and ginger in the pan until soft, add salt, pepper and onion powder and heat though. Add water to cover and a little soy sauce (to color it nice and brown) and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix flour or cornstarch in a cup or jar with a fork with cool water and slowly add to onion mixture a little at a time, stirring until it thickens. Adjust seasonings, add the tofu, stir gently and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve.
Options: Adding a little red cooking wine to the gravy, then serve over flat noodles for a meatless version of “Beef Burgundy.” Use sesame or peanut oil for extra warming flavor. Pepper lovers will want to grind it fresh over each portion before serving. Sauté diced red or green pepper with the onions to “kick it up” a gourmet notch. (… so there, Emeril, see if YOU can feed 4 people this inexpensively!)
Freezing Tofu: The tofu will not need to be drained if you freeze it ahead of time and thaw for cooking; to freeze fresh tofu, slice and place on a tray in the freezer for a few hours, transfer it to a bag or freezer container and use as needed.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. If you buy the cheese and pasta on sale, it actually costs less per serving than packaged noodles with cheese powder, cooks almost as quickly, tastes better and is a lot better for you.

2 – 3 C. pasta (macaroni, rotini, shells, etc.)
2 – 3 T. cooking oil
1 C. cold water
2 – 4 T. flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. ketchup
1/4 pound cheddar cheese, grated

Cook the pasta until almost tender, drain. Put a little cooking oil in the pot, add the pasta and toss to coat. Put the cold water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Mix the flour, salt and pepper with a little more cool water in a jar, mix in the ketchup, and add this mixture to the boiling water. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until thickened, add grated cheese (reserve some for the topping) and stir constantly until cheese has melted – don’t let the sauce burn! Stir most of the cheese sauce into the pasta to coat it evenly. Place pasta in a baking dish (glass is best) pour the rest of the cheese sauce over the top, sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Serve hot.
Hints: Use good olive oil or margarine to coat the pasta if you have it. Using fancy pasta like rotini, fusili or shells gives that “gourmet touch” for the same money (but most kids just love old fashioned macaroni).
Suggestions: Mix chopped tomatoes, green pepper, frozen vegetables into the pasta mix before placing in baking dish. Double the recipe and freeze individual or family portions for quick meals on busy nights.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Easy to make, Corned Beef and Cabbage is not only a gourmet treat, but is an honored tradition here in the Canadian Maritimes. We call it “boiled dinner” and substitute pickled pork hocks, necks or ribs, fresh beef or fresh fish for the corned beef. Honorable mention goes out to Dave Osborne, who requested this recipe from Gramma Willi. NOT for the cholesterol-shy!

1-2 pound piece of corned beef

4-5 liters of Water

2-3 lbs. potatoes, scrubbed or peeled, chopped into bite size pieces

3-5 large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks

1 medium sized turnip, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces

1 medium cabbage, cored and cut into 8 equal portions

Fill a large cooking pot with water, add the corned beef, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for an hour or two, until the meat is pretty much cooked. Cut the meat into nice sized chunks and return to the cooking water.

Add the carrots, turnip and potatoes, add water to cover if necessary. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to medium-low and cook 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the cabbage over top of everything, bring to a boil, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, until the cabbage is done. This is a delicious, satisfying and hearty meal served with home made bannock or corn bread.

Tip: If you’re making a fish boiled dinner, cook the vegetables first (I’d leave out the cabbage); add the fish during the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking.

Money-Saving Hint: cut-price smoked meat or pastrami end-cuts work very well with this recipe and really save money! Cook them for a shorter time by adding all the meat and vegetables at once, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour.