Country Cook News – May 3, 2013

Hi Everyone!

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

Chicken Asparagus Casserole is a reminder that spring is here, yet it offers the familiarity of a comfort food meal. It’s a sprightly everyday dish made with chicken breasts and fresh asparagus smothered in a light, creamy sauce. It’s simple to assemble for a week night dinner and it’s equally delicious if the asparagus is swapped-out for fresh green beans. In fact, to me it’s a toss-up as to which vegetable I like the most for this casserole. Try it once and it’ll quickly become a week night staple. This recipe is Hubby approved.

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BLOG OF THE WEEK
The Noble Pig offers plenty of variety: Recipes, Apparel, Giveaways, Life Tales, Travel, Weirdness, and my personal favorite, Wine. Cathy, the site creator, and her husband have planted a vineyard in McMinnville, Oregon where they make their own wine, which carries the Noble Pig label. Besides the wine, How to Throw a Successful Theme Party was impressive with Cathy’s example being a Breakfast for Dinner theme party. The entire Breakfast for Dinner theme was demonstrated from the table setting to really unusual and delicious looking recipes. Ever heard of pancakes as appetizers? Ah, now you’re hooked! While you’re visiting the site, take a peek at The Noble Pig’s Giveaways, they’re quality prizes that would be nothing less than delightful to win.

For me, the Noble Pig website and blog brings back memories of living on a farm. As I told Cathy, I have a fondness for pigs because we raised them, and believe it or not pigs can be quite funny and surprisingly intelligent. Our first two pigs we named “Pork” & “Beans.” Later names were Elmer, Porky, Petunia, Penelope and Peanut. One year we had a bumper crop of apples, so many in fact, the pigs refused to eat any more apples…they’d sniff the apples, oink their objection and stagger away. Normally, our family, and the pigs, welcomed the fresh, home-grown “King” apples but that particular year we understood their saturation point. Oh my, what a treat it would be to have some of those apples today, yum!

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ASPARAGUS
In this video the Jazzy Gourmet covers the basics on purchasing, storing and cooking fresh asparagus. My favorite way of serving it is by blanching and serving it atop salads (as she demonstrates at the end of the video). We also like it roasted in the oven with peanut oil, salt and herbs. I disagree with cutting the ends off with a knife. I was taught to gently bend the spear to snap off the cut, or tough, end. If an asparagus spear is snapped properly, the entire spear will be tender. If you really love asparagus, here’s a site with more asparagus information and facts.

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ASPARAGUS IN PORK CHOPS & APPLESAUCE

Yes, there’s an asparagus story with recipes in Pork Chops and Applesauce. Here’s a excerpt: I was only 5-years old when I was allowed the privilege of wielding a machete (with close supervision, of course). The knife, nearly and big as me, was used for cutting the green shoots that popped up on the riverbank, for boosting my young ego and to quell my terror of snakes that might be lurking in grassy mounds..waiting to eat little girls! Recipes include Asparagus Cheese Ham Roll-ups, Cynthia’s Chilled Asparagus Salad and Elegant Steamed Asparagus, all of which, are my own recipes.

Happy 10th Birthday to Pork Chops & Applesauce! It was 10 years ago this month that we held the first signing for Pork Chops at the Blue House Bakery in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Of all the various books I sell, Pork Chops, Sweet Apple, six different Chicken Soup for the Soul titles, and my two e-books, Bumper Crop and The Adventures of Lily and Leon, Pork Chops continues to be my best selling book. This tells me that people love the idea of returning to the dinner table for sharing a meal with loved ones. They enjoy getting back to the basics and their roots, and perhaps to capture a glimpse into a more settled or grounded time; a time when no one answered their cell phone at the dinner table.

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CB’s KITCHEN TIP

FRESH ASPARAGUS: Look at the cut end of the asparagus, the fresher the cut, the fresher the asparagus. Asparagus tips should be tightly closed with no visible seeds when purchased.

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TAPE TIP

Use a plastic bread tag to attach to the end of the a roll of tape. The tag makes it easier to unroll the tape and there’s no more losing the end of the tape on the roll.

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ASK CYNTHIA A QUESTION – May 3, 2013

Mary Jean’s Question: What are your secrets for making perfect scrambled eggs?  No whites or stringy parts of the egg visible, and can you get perfection with using only water, or do you have to use milk?

My Answer: Scrambled eggs are made according to personal taste. Some like soft and squishy, others like them more firm and hard. If you like them soft, cook them on low heat and for not very long; if you like them in fine pieces, chop with a spatula as they’re cooking on low heat. Water gives fluffier scrambled eggs than milk where the addition of milk will make them heavier in texture. Many people make the mistake of cooking eggs on medium to high heat. Keeping the heat low is most beneficial and if your eggs are brown (or greenish) the heat is too high or they’ve been cooked too long. Remember, cooking eggs is much like a pregnancy – it can’t be hurried.

I whip together two eggs in a small bowl using a fork, and then add a pinch of salt, pepper and dried parsley flakes. I whip in about 1 tablespoon of water and beat them again with the fork until there is no visible white or seasoning. Sometimes I add a few splashes of Louisiana hot sauce. Then I cook them in butter over low heat. I almost always melt shredded cheese over the top of my eggs just as they finish cooking. Scrambled eggs served with picante sauce and fresh cilantro is a favorite in my house. Thank you for your question, Mary Jean, and for your interest in Ask Cynthia A Question.

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Till next time…
CB

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