Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sweet stir fry

Momma has to fix quck meals sometimes but they must make everyone happy.

Momma Explains: Most meals need more prep time or cooking time, especially if meats are involved. So the secret to cutting down on the cooking time when you still want a meat, is to use small or thin slices of your favorite meat. In this recipe I take a couple of pounds of beef tenderloin or sirloin and I cook it quickly then make a sweet orange marmalade and onion sauce with red peppers and broccoli. Feel free to change up the vegetables, the peppers and broccoli are just the two I like in this dish. It all cooks in one pot. I suggest that you also make some quick eggnoodles, they cook in very little time or another fast cooking starch. Have a fruity Reisling by Rolf Binder with this dish.
Now get that WOK or frying pan out and we can cook.

Sweet Stir Fry: Cut up your beef into thin 1/2 inch strips. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In a frying pan or wok, heat up some olive oil, use enough to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Add a thinly sliced sweet onion and sprinkle that with some sea salt, as the onion turns opaque, add the beef strips and cook for a few minutes, turning often. Add the sliced red peppers, cook a few minutes and add the following ingredients, stirring gently but thoroughly after each addition:
1 cup beef stock, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1cup orange marmalade, 1/2 cup brown sugar( you can add more later if you want it sweeter), 1/2 tsp ginger, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce. Mix all ingredients together and bring to a simmer, after a few minutes add your broccoli florets. I only cook the broccoli a short time as it is better firmer and takes on some bitterness if cooked too long. Now wok and lol !!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bullies are not the victims

Momma knows that bullies exist, and they need help to overcome their actions but let us not forget who really suffers.

Momma Explains: Bullies choose their victims and the people they pick on are victims. Victims are the ones being abused and I get very angry when the psych babble starts directing a correction toward the victim. Without bullies there would be no bullied victims. That is the fact, the victim is not guilty and there is no law against being a victim. There is however a law against being abusive. I do not want you to think that I am unaware of the probable causes of bullying, I am adamant however that the bully must be stopped not the victim. Once, one of my children was being physically hit by an older child, who was himself abused. This child had suffered and vented his frustration the only way that he knew, he hit and hurt someone else. Now, while I did have empathy toward the child's anger , I did not condone his abuse of other children. My son was smaller and younger and was frightened and ashamed that he could not "handle" the bully as so many adults seem to expect. What is wrong with our society that we expect children to fight, to defend themselves against abusers, and if they cannot, we blame the victim. One of the administrators actually advised me to have my son learn karate so he felt more secure. The problem with that kind of thinking lies in its philosophy. A child is taught a skill to defend himself, and at the same time, he is taught that the physically superior will win. It is this kind of thinking that drives a victim to seek refuge in a weapon and then use that weapon on their abuser. After all, we encouraged them to become superior so they could "take" the abuser. The real challenge in this situation comes down to using common sense. Unfortunately, all children do need some self defense skills, but they also need to know that authority exists to bring order and justice. The bully cannot be allowed to bully, the victim has equal rights and one of those rights is his own safety. We all need to recognize that superior strength does not live outside the law. Children who are bullies need counseling but their victims need to be protected and counseled as well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lauren's Chicken

Momma is asked for recipes all the time, especially by the young people who are starting to really enjoy cooking. The problem is that Momma rarely measures, so to offer a recipe, I must try it while measuring. The things I do for my children and their friends.

Momma Explains
: This recipe is for Lauren, my extra daughter. She is eager to try her culinary skills as she has already mastered cake decorating. It is a two pot recipe, one skillet for the chicken and one sauce pan for the brown rice. It is dependent on the cooking time for the rice as the chicken only takes 30 minutes, so plan your prep time according to the time your particular brown rice needs. Pair it with a fruit forward Shiraz such as Marquis Phillips.

Lauren's Chicken: First, choose a brown rice and prepare according to package directions. Add grated orange peel to the rice as it is cooking to give it a citrus edge, this also enhances the Shiraz fruit flavor. So you have to have some wine with dinner. While the rice is cooking, add olive oil to a pan and cook one sweet onion which has been chopped. While the onion cooks, add some sea salt to the onion. When the onion is opaque add some very thin chicken breasts that you have seasoned with salt and pepper, brown chicken on both sides and when brown, lower heat and add five whole garlic cloves. As soon as the garlic starts to cook, add one can of cranberry sauce, one cup of orange marmalade and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Stir them in the pan carefully and continue to simmer. As it cooks the gelatin will break down and you will be able to blend the sauce better. If you like a sweetened sauce , add about 1/4 cup of sugar and mix evenly into sauce. My family likes it sweetened but it is your call. Cook until the chicken is done but it will depend upon the thickness of the chicken breasts. I usually use very thin breasts about 6-8 but then I have HUGE MOMMA PANS to cook in, it only takes about 30 minutes tops to cook the thin breasts. AND THAT IS COOKING AT A SIMMER. Serve the chicken and rice with a nice crunchy salad. Make extra and take it for lunch the next day, it is good the second time around as well.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Alternative Therapies

Momma recognizes the benefits of traditional M.D. medicine and treatments but over the years, time and experience have opened a new approach that should not be disregarded.

Momma Explains: Since my undergraduate studies were in Science, I started off as a very method oriented person, who almost always followed standardized treatment and popular medical opinion. However, by personal experience, I have found this approach sometimes mistaken and far too limiting.

The first thing we must realize is that everyone, whether a licensed medical professional, masseuse, acupuncturist, herbalist, neurologist or educator, everyone is a human being. Being human is a gift but it also means we will make mistakes. Over the years I have learned that the New England Journal of Medicine is not a god, that doctors can only diagnose and prescribe what they have learned and that not all alternative therapies are safe or effective. Which has led me to the conclusion that you must be your own advocate and research technician. Any time you have a condition, or concern, it is wise to see a professional in that field, it is also wise to use the wonderful resource of the Internet to do research, as well as, ask friends and family what information or experience they may have. For surgeries or intense treatments, a second opinion is always wise. Alternative treatments can be used in conjunction with standard practice. Try a massage for tension relief before a pill, herbal supplements have come a long way, there could be a good one available for your condition. With a reliable supplier you may avoid dependent drug therapy. It is truly your responsibility and you must evaluate your options. Do not be too eager to try the newest treatment, vaccine or medicine. Evaluate, research, and consider all possible alternatives.
At least get a great massage before you make any decisions, it is amazing what an hour massage can do for your perspective. Relax and think about it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chris' Clams and Linguine

Momma has an unusual situation in her family, food allergies to shell fish. Now what is an Italian momma to do?

Momma Explains: Okay, now it happens in all families, food allergies. The Italian solution is to still make the food with an alternative. In my family there are a few members who are allergic to shellfish. Does this mean I do not make clams and linguine? Of course not, but you make all the pasta at once and have different sauces available. I always put some pasta aside for children or adults. I add the simple combination of butter and freshly ground Locatelli, maybe a little oregano. This is simplicity at its best and always enjoyed. Then I make my Chris, his clams and linguine. I serve a little white such as Luna or Holly's Blend. It is delicious and so simple.
Chris' Clams and Linguine: I purchase clams in a can, chopped clams not minced. I use 3 cans per pound of pasta but you can always use less pasta. Do not skimp on the clams. Boil your pasta water and add loads of salt. Have a good brand of linguine ready. In a saucepan coat the entire bottom with olive oil, and add about 3 tablespoons of butter, heat . Then using a garlic press, press into the oil mix 5 cloves of garlic, some salt and pepper and a bunch of chives or parsley minced. I prefer chives while my daughter prefers parsley, hey , it is up to you. Then open your clams and add ONLY the juice to the oil mixture. Let this cook about 20 minutes or so on medium heat. Meanwhile, add your pasta to the pasta water and cook till al dente. Then quickly add your clams to your sauce and cook only 5 minutes till heated. If you over cook clams, it makes them rubbery. Drain your pasta and toss into the sauce pan. Heat about 1-2 minutes and serve, garnish with fresh lemon wedges. Many people add grated cheese. It is a personal preference. This is Italian cooking in its simple yet delicious finest. Use the freshest ingredients possible and serve with love.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Remembering our freedom is not free

Momma has great respect for all the military personnel who make daily sacrifices to preserve the constitution and freedoms of the U.S. However, there are other unsung heroes who are often unrecognized, they deserve our thanks, our support, and our prayers.

Momma Explains: While most of us are familiar with the incredible sacrifices that our various military units make on our behalf, I wonder how many of us really understand the tremendous sacrifices that are asked of the families of those deployed or serving actively. The families live a restricted life, have limited incomes, demanding schedules and live with the fear of dangerous deployment. Momma has seen first hand the long months of separation, the demands of single parenting, the lonely holidays and burden that is borne by the families of our military. I have watched families wave goodbye to their dads, moms, sons and daughters, and their lives have been changed by this sacrifice. There are many brave parents, spouses, and children who face each day alone because their loved one is preserving our freedom. So as we start another school year and prepare for the consecutive upcoming holidays, keep in mind and prayer, all the families of our men and women serving to keep our freedom. Many of these families will enjoy the holidays without their loved one, children will perform in concerts and plays with only one parent attending and spouses will try to keep joy despite their own concerns. Freedom is not free and we need to thank and remember all those who ensure our liberty.

Here is a link for a video that shows one wounded warrior and his family, who have continued to help others even when they have their own demanding challenges. It is commendable and I urge you to view.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Simple Marinara

Momma needs to fix quick meals sometimes, but I always want them to taste great, and I always want people to ask for seconds.

Momma Explains: Simple meals require few ingredients but always use fresh ingredients. Serve simple dishes with a nice wine that compliments the meal and creates harmony at the table. If it is a simple meal, I often am able to put it together quickly so there is minimal cooking time. One of my favorite quick fix meals is macaroni and marinara sauce. I always serve marinara with chianti, such as Ruffino Chianti Classico. Add a Romaine salad, some crusty bread, some nice olive oil and you can feel the LOVE !

Momma's Marinara: You MUST use San Marzano tomatoes or it will not be full of the love, and natural sweet flavor that is unique to only San Marzano tomatoes. Take a big sauce pan or large skillet, add about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, then, to the hot oil ( cook on medium heat) add one chopped sweet onion, a big onion is fine, sprinkle with salt and cook till opaque. Then add your San Marzano tomatoes. They are more expensive but worth every penny. The can of San Marzano is usually about 28 oz., you can use more tomatoes if you wish. This is for one pound of pasta and the sauce is minimal so if you want a wetter dish, add two cans of tomatoes. Add three cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste and three sprigs of basil. I do not detach the leaves from the stem, and of course, I just cut them off my plant. If you do not grow your own herbs, get a basil plant in water from the market and use sprigs from there. Now the fun part, you can leave the sauce to these simple elements or add some leftovers. The other night I added pork medallions but spicy cappicola or ham would be tasty too. If you want to use up some left over meats, it is awesome flavor or just keep it fresh and simple. I always start my water when I start this sauce. As the water reaches a boil, add your salt, I use about a tablespoon of sea salt. Then pick your favorite pasta/macaroni. I like penne for this but you choose. The sauce is cooked in about 10 minutes, so as soon as the pasta is done al dente, dump it into the sauce and simmer briefly before serving. Freshly grated pepper and Romano cheese are a nice option. Now pour the wine and grab a plate, a big one, and enjoy.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Never Quit on Your Kids

Momma has had her share of educational battles on behalf of her children and other children who needed an advocate. How far do you go on behalf of the children?

Momma Explains: You go as far as it takes. Sometimes, you need to fight the bureaucracy of the education system, at other times, it is a poor evaluation, poor teacher, abusive bully, misguided parent or inadequate curriculum. Your first duty as a parent is for your child's welfare: spiritual, academic, and physical. When you suspect your child is ill, you take them to the doctors and so it should also be that way in other areas of child development. You need to monitor and administrate your child's educational health as well as you monitor their physical health. Thanks to the Internet, many parents are able to research different medical conditions, terms, treatments and symptoms. By expanding our medical knowledge, we are better able to make a medical decision with the physician. I have found, however, that the world is a lot slower to accept parental input on education. Now that is a double edged sword. I have seen many parents who insist that their child is capable of taking a class beyond their abilities or a parent who is adamant that their child does NOT have a learning disability when indeed the child does. Yet, for every one of these parents, I have also seen a parent who instinctively knows what their child needs and often the education system is ignoring that need. So many kids fall under the radar because they are borderline. Well, you can cross the border very easily and few would notice. That is why it is important that parents remain diligent in their supervision and awareness of their child's education. Know what is going on in the classroom, make friends with another parent and bounce information off each other. Read the school's policies and handbook. Ask for help if you or your child is in need. Ask for a child advocate in situations that are more serious. Ask for an evaluation in writing: the school must respond to written requests. We are our children's first line of defense, first teacher, first advisor, first prayer partner. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and arm yourself with knowledge, advice , prayer and always LOVE.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Labor Day Wine and Cheese

Momma loves to sit with friends and family and enjoy some simple pleasures. So what makes me happy and is quickly served, but is delicious?

Momma Explains: As the summer vacations draw to a close, we often gather for one last hurrah. I love getting together with loved ones to eat, drink and be very merry. It is not necessary to prepare elaborate meals all the time, instead try a few of my favorite simple snacks which can fill you up as well as a meal. Take time to experiment with a few sensational whites that mimic the fruit and flavor in your snacks. I recently discovered an awesome Gewurztraminer which MUST BE SERVED VERY CHILLED but is delicious with cheese and melon. Try Vin D'Alsace Helfrich Gewurztraminer 2007 with ripe cantaloupe or local melon, add a goat cheese and some herb crackers. Chill the wine and you will be smiling while snacking. Very simple combinations of wine, fruit, cheese and crackers are always a welcome feast. Some of my favorites are listed below.

Momma's Favorite Combos:

Fresh strawberries, pinot grigio and a baked brie cheese. Put some raspberry preserves on the brie and bake on about 350 for 20 minutes.

Aged Provolone, herb Italian bread, grapes, and Chianti Classico

Melon, Gewurztraminer and goat cheese with multi grain crackers

Basil or Rosemary flat bread, a Shiraz wine, Bing cherries, and Gouda cheese.

Now who needs a main course after that?