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Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa

We blog about this recipe here.

Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa

Food & Wine’s cookbook Best of the Best, published in 2015, included this recipe – which just happens to come from our daughter, Sara, and the Tacolicious cookbook.  We’ve already given you the corn salsa recipe (a stand-alone version) – but add it to this Sopa de Lima and you get one of our favorite summer dishes.  Hands down.  And it makes brilliant use of those garden fresh tomatoes which you got at the Farmers’ Market – or grew yourself.  For an even-quicker version use rotisserie chicken from the market and prepared chicken broth.
  • 1 1/2 c fresh corn kernels (2 ears)
  • 1 1/2 c diced tomato
  • 1/2 c chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 c finely diced red onion
  • 1 T finely chopped seeded jalapeno (optional – or to taste)
  • 1/4 c fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 c chicken broth
  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano – or regular dried oregano
  • Steamed white rice, crumbled queso fresco (optional), diced avocado for serving
  • wedges of lime for serving
In a medium bowl, toss the corn with the tomato, cilantro, onion, jalapeno and 1 T of the lime juice.  Season the corn salsa with the salt and pepper and let stand for about 20 minutes.
In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil.  Add the chicken thighs and simmer over moderate heat until cooked through – about 15 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a bowl and let cool.  Shred the chicken.
Add the oregano and the remaining 3 T of lime juice to the soup and stir in the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  Ladle the soup over the rice and garnish with the corn salsa, queso fresco and avocado.  Serve with lime wedges.
Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

 

 

Hydroponic (wink wink) Gardening

Help me out here. I grew up before “weed” was everywhere and (well…almost) universally accepted. The only weed I knew was what I was instructed by my mother to pull out of our big Colorado vegetable garden.

My kind of weed: spotted spurge (BTW it’s a euphorbia and its sap can irritate your skin)

Well, that’s not quite true. It may have taken me a while, but I did figure out at some point that John Denver may have been singing about more than just happiness or getting high on booze when he croons “friends around the campfire and everybody’s high.” It’s not surprising that LoDo in Denver has a dispensary called Rocky Mountain High. How apropos. And what a way to remember John Denver! (Fact Checker: John reportedly denied that he referenced pot-smoking in his lyrics.)

Andy, who despises garden weeding, is focusing on weed in today’s Andy’s Corner. He wants this to be a “joint” effort.

My problem is this: I’m kind of intrigued with hydroponic gardening, but when I search for information about it, I wonder if the search results refer (wink wink) to growing marijuana. How can I learn more about hydroponic gardening and be sure I’m learning about something that’s intended for plants like tomatoes and cucumbers – and not weed?

For example, couldn’t a naive researcher (like me) mistake GreenEntrepreneur.com, WayofLeaf.com, HighTimes.com, PotGuide.com, GrowersSupply.com, or TheWeedScene.com for references to the thrill and challenges of gardening? 🙂

My interest in this all was piqued by an article in the NYTimes (we’ve downloaded it here for you, in case you can’t see it at the website) – “No Soil. No Growing Seasons. Just Add Water and Technology.” It’s a look at hydroponic gardening and all of the benefits it may have, as climate-change becomes reality. It’s definitely worth a read.

Hydroponic tomato-growing

What especially caught my attention were these two sentences in the Times’ article: the CEO of Bowery, the largest hydroponic company in the U.S., said “his farms are 100 times as productive as traditional ones and use 95 percent less water. Other companies claim they can grow as much food on a single acre as a traditional farm can grow on 390.”

No chemicals, pesticides, or GMOs; vine-ripened, Appalachia grown. Sounds good? That’s from App Harvest’s web page about their vegetables raised by large-scale hydroponic “gardening.”
AppHarvest’s enormous plant – in Appalachia. One of the appeals is that hydroponically-grown produce can be produced anywhere and so does not have to travel long distances to the market.

I don’t think I’ll be growing my tomatoes hydroponically next summer. Until I have the opportunity to taste and compare hydroponically-grown produce with “earth-grown” produce, I’ll remain skeptical. Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the chichi restaurant and farm in New York’s Hudson Valley, states that “truly delicious food can only come from the earth.” That may be true, but what if? What if hydroponics is our only viable choice?

I’ve learned to be accepting of weed. Now maybe I need to be accepting of hydroponics.

Produce from our earthy Glen Ellen garden

No matter where your tomatoes are coming from – your backyard or the farmers’ market – here are links to some of our favorite recipes for those tomatoes. For our most favorite lunch ever – try the bacon and tomato taco. It’s SO good! Or use your fresh, earth-grown tomatoes in soups, on toast, in a puff pastry tart, on a burger, and, of course, in salads. Enjoy them while you can.

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BluesFreeBerries

Now that the Pandemic is/may be almost over (wishfully, possibly, hopefully), we can go back in our thoughts to Christmas 2020. At that time I couldn’t even mention the word “blue” – because it just brought tears. I know I certainly didn’t waltz around the house, belting out “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you” along with Elvis Presley on our Sonos.

In fact, I don’t think I did much holiday singing – period. Andy and I and our daughter, Sara – just the three of us – celebrated the holiday together, trying awfully hard to act as if we were tough and didn’t mind how crazy and sad and lonely the day seemed. And how do you plan and cook and serve a festive holiday meal for three, when there should have been eight?

But now we are SO ready for some singing and dancing and cooking – and DINNER PARTIES!. Our son, Travis – who didn’t make it out here in December (our first Christmas in 47 years that we were not with him) – was just here, working from home/mom and dad’s for 2 weeks. It was delightful. And there was lots of singing to Willie Nelson’s Blue Skies. “Blue skies, smilin’ at me; nothin’ but blue skies do I see.”

Lots of blue sky as Andy and Travis bicycled together in Sonoma

While I was thinking about “blue” and thinking about our 1+ year of isolation, I remembered this photo our grandson Moss took of a tile mural on the Harvey Milk elementary school near their SF home. When Moss originally showed me the photo I was moved by the 2 different-colored hands, firmly shaking. Today I’m even more moved by the circle of folks of all colors, holding hands. The emotional impact of holding hands and being close together in a diverse (mask-free) group means more now than I could have ever imagined.

Tile on an outside wall at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy on 19th St in San Francisco

When you’re retired and have free time and love to cook (well, at least love to cook 90% of the time), it’s a joy to have someone new – and appreciative – to cook for. Travis’s visit gave me that chance.

And though I huffed and puffed about Ina Garten when she released her cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey – thinking that it’s so wrong for women to relish “cooking for their men,” I found myself thrilled to have created a teeny little, personal cookbook entitled Cooking for Travis. I relied on some of our favorite BigLittleMeals dishes – and cooked up a storm. So if you’re looking to celebrate vaccines and maskless faces, any of these will be a great recipe for your first dinner party. Maybe you can even hold hands before eating – and say (deep breathing), “THANKS.”

Pictures above show a few of our Cooking for Travis meals – the links below are for these recipes and several more that we fixed.

Turkey Chili
Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa
Roasted Chicken Thighs with New Potatoes
Sweet and Sour Fish
Mediterranean Grilled Chops
Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)
Greek Pastitsio
Zucchini and Mint Turkey Burgers with Sumac Sauce
Grilled Tri-Tip Steak with Ginger and Soy
Easy Carnitas

Andy, too, helped contribute to the cookbook for Travis. It’s impressive when a father can talk about what he cooks for his children. In addition to Andy’s 5:30 am prep work – Deb’s Granola put out, blueberries dished up and strawberries cut up, yogurt on the table – Andy did some tasty grilling and made some impressive breakfast dishes – biscuits, breakfast burritos, plattar and sour dough waffles, to name a few. The one thing Andy didn’t get around to making is Oyster Stew. He’s big on oysters at the moment, as you’ll see in today’s Andy’s Corner. And an Oyster Stew recipe is sure to be forthcoming.

As for BluesFreeBerries – or Blueberries, if you’re not just coming out of a pandemic – here are two new recipes to try. You need to seek out the best organic blueberries you can find – and not get discouraged if you bring home a few boxes that don’t live up to your expectations. In fact, I recommend keeping your best berries to eat fresh and unsugared with your granola, since blueberries are considered a “superfood”- good for your heart, your skin, your bones, you name it. Then use your not-amazing-but-still-good blueberries for baking.

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The Raggedy Awards – Year Three

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What else can one say?

Welcome to our third annual BigLIttleMeals Raggedy Awards.  Each year at this time Ann and I select our favorites from each other’s posts from the past year (see the entire list here).  This is never easy because we both have fragile egos, and to pass over a favorite post can cause hurt feelings.  But we are living in tough times and tough decisions are needed. So here it goes.

And now to the Presentation of Awards:

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Andy’s Picks

Andy’s pick for Ann’s BEST BLOG goes to: This Bowl So Dear

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Ann opens this blog with the above wonderful poem by Australia’s Michael Leunig.  Her blog is more than just about the comfort food we eat out of bowls; it is about social class and who we are (which is a plus to my sociological imagination).

The Runner up for Ann’s BEST BLOG is Revisiting Jerusalem

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This blog is so Ann.  It combines cultural and culinary issues with music.  If you haven’t already picked it up, music is to Ann what water is to fish (I know, corny).  In fact, she is in the other room singing to herself as I type this.  Also, some of my favorite recipes are in this blog.

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Ann’s Picks.

Ann’s pick for THE BEST ANDY’S CORNER  goes to: Thomas the Tank Engine Goes to College .

Little did I suspect that my hours of playing Thomas the Tank Engine with our grandson Silas would some day pay off with his acceptance to UC Berkeley.  That’s stretching it a bit but both the little tank engine and Silas have unexpected strengths beneath their playful veneers.

The Runner up for THE BEST ANDY’S CORNER goes to: Spotted WHAT?.

Spotted Dick menu item circled

A canal boat trip in England with four grandparent-aged and two teen-aged passengers was spiced up with the discovery of a rather roguishly named dessert in a canal-side pub.  This Andy’s Corner was an especially appropriate companion piece to Ann’s blog Keep Your Pecker Up, a post that could easily have been selected as best in spite of its R rating.

The Raggedy for BEST VIDEO goes to:

Oakley’s Secret: A Tailless Dog’s Tale

One of the more enjoyable things I do for the blog is produce an occasional video presentation.  To assure complete transparency and objectivity in the selection of the best video, understand that Ann makes this selection.

In this exposé I dig deep into the psyche and quirky world of our beloved Australian Shepherd, Oakley.  This is not her first starring role in one of my videos, but after this you will never quite see her in the same light.

 

The Runner-up for BEST VIDEO goes to:  Air B&B for Birds

My interest in wildlife is well known in the documentary film world (see Where the Wild Things Are).  Air B&B is my first foray into filming the aquatic lives of non-aquatic birds.  Mainly, I did this to have some excuse to play Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds.

 

The Raggedy for BEST RECIPE (according to Andy) goes to:  Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa with Ginger Scones being a VERY close runner-up.

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Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa, Andy’s top recipe pick

Picking out a favorite recipe is nearly impossible for me.  Each one we publish is a work of love which involves much testing, tasting, and at times, rejecting.   In this case we plundered the recipe from our daughter Sara.  It was published in The Best of Food and Wine, Vol 18, 2015.

The Raggedy for BEST RECIPE (according to Ann) goes to: Shakshuka – with Indian Butter Chicken being a VERY close runner-up.

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Ann wrote about Shakshuka just days after last year’s Raggedy Awards and claimed it was her current favorite recipe, “hands down.”  She even requested (and had) Shakshuka for her Mothers’ Day celebration which was just around the corner.  And now that Mother’s Day is upon us again, it is more than appropriate that she has officially named this as her favorite.

The Raggedy for OUR FAVORITE FOOD ITEM OF THE YEAR goes to:  Goya Canned Beans

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These are from our pantry

We hesitate to contradict the well-known food-writer, Mark Bittman, but we think there’s a distinct difference in the quality of Goya canned beans and all other brands.  And we like Goya far better.  The brand can be hard to find (we make special trips to get ours at the local Safeway), though Whole Foods claims it’s available in some stores.

If you want to know more about Goya, here’s a 2013 article from the WaPo:  How Goya brought ethnic food to white America.  A little further research indicates the Hispanic-family-owned Goya is now struggling with whether to be bought out.  Kind of hope they don’t sell.  “Big” seldom means “better” for consumers.

Our last award is the Raggedy for BEST LAGNIAPPE BLOG. This is a new category for our awards presentations.  This past year Ann wrote six Lagniappe Blogs.  These are short pieces offering just a little something extra as the spirit moves her.  In my opinion, her latest one was one of the most clever, and as far as we can tell, least understood of her efforts.  So I am awarding the Raggedy for the BEST LAGNIAPPE BLOG to Is There a Perfect Choice?

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Bidens ‘Blazing Glory’ – just what’s needed?

Although this piece is about flowers on one level, there is a deeper and more nuanced message lurking under the surface.  Once you begin to see the theme, the names of the various flowers she mentions make more sense. I recommend you reread this piece with an eye for the theme and see how many veiled references you can find.

Stay well and safe.

 

 

 

 

SOUPS AND STEWS

SOUPS
A Simplified Leah Chase Gumbo 
Avocado and Tomato Gazpacho
Almost-Japanese Lotus Root and Pork Rib Curry Soup
Birria de Res
Carrot Ginger Soup
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Chicken Pozole Verde
Chile Verde
Curried Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Soup
Danish Hen’s Soup with Dumplings – Hønsekødssuppe

Gulyás (Hungarian Goulash)
Joyce’s Clam Chowder 
Lamb and White Bean Chili
Lentil Soup with Bacon
MFK Fisher’s Minestrone

MountainWestBob’s Easy Crockpot Chili
Not Your Mother’s Chili
Pho-ish Chicken
Potato Soup That Happens to Have Broccoli In It
Quick White Bean Soup
Sopa de Lima
Soto Ayam – Indonesian Chicken Soup
Super Simple Red Lentil Soup
Turkey Chili
Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
Watercress, Spinach, and Chickpea Soup
Wisconsin Beer and Cheese Soup

STEWS

A Simplified Leah Chase Gumbo 
Basic Red Beans and Rice
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Colorado-ish Potato and Green Chile Stew
Korean Crock Pot Pork Stew
Moquera Biana – Brazilian Fish Stew
Moroccan Stew
North African Crock Pot Lamb Stew

Ropa Vieja
Seafood Stew with Tomatoes & Coconut Milk 
Turkey Bone Gumbo
Vietnamese Tomato-y Beef Stew: Bo Kho

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