Yoghurt Lentil Soup

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Yoghurt Lentil Soup

I love living in Southern California. It’s not too cold, and it’s not too hot. It’s like somewhere that Goldilocks would like to live. We had a little bit of rain last night, and that gives me and excuse to make soup!

I wanted to make a healthy and hardy soup. It’s Friday, and in our house, we don’t eat meat on Fridays. We eat vegetarian or fish. Tonight, we’re going to have our Yoghurt Lentil Soup with Fish and Chips, so we’ll be a little British and a little Armenian. Why not? It’s good for you!

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Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Fudge for Valentines

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Finished Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Fudge

Sometimes you get lucky and someone gives you a whole bunch of boxes of Christmas Peppermint Candy Canes. I was lucky, my friend gave me six boxes of candy someone had given her. She was surprised when I said I wanted it, and she wanted to know what I was going to do with it. I said, “Make Peppermint Fudge, of course!”

Span was excited to help me because he got the job of breaking up the candy canes into more manageable pieces. First he did this with his hands, came and showed them to me and I said, “You know, breaking them goes quicker when you use a hammer.” So, he got a hammer, and he started banging away at them. I was washing dishes and didn’t realize he had started, or where he was going this. I now have little bits of candy cane on the floor in the living room. No big deal, I will vacuum them up. The point is he had a good time, and really felt he was helping.

We made the fudge last night and put it in the refrigerator to firm up. I was thinking of dipping the pieces in chocolate, but I only had unsweetened chocolate. If that happens to you, it’s not a show stopper.

How to Make Dipping Chocolate with Unsweetened Chocolate

Double BoilerI like to melt my chocolate in a double boiler. I also prefer to make my own double boiler by placing a metal bowl above pan half filled with water. The bowl’s circumference is much larger than the pan, so a) there is no chance of the chocolate falling into the water, and most importantly, b) because of the large circumference, there is little chance of steam getting to the chocolate and making it seize. Once chocolate has seized, about the only thing it’s good for is breaking up for chocolate chip cookies, or beating the heck out of it to make chocolate ganache.

Making Dipping Chocolate with Unsweetned ChocolateI found myself in a quandary as I did not have enough semi-sweet chocolate to dip all the fudge, and I didn’t want to waste time going to the store to buy more. It’s actually not a problem, you can add sugar to melted chocolate, and it will be just fine. As a matter of fact, just as in using salted butter gives you little control over saltiness in dishes, using semi-sweet chocolate also gives you limited control over the sweetness of the chocolate. The important thing to remember is that you must use the finest grain pure cane sugar you can get to avoid grittiness. Add the sugar to the melted chocolate, slowly, stirring all the while. Whatever you do, don’t let the sugar liquefy or you’ll just have a mess of seized chocolate. The ratio is about 1/4 cup of sugar to every ounce of unsweetened chocolate. You will have to test it for taste, though, depending on how sweet you want the final product.

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Recipes in This Post Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The other day, I had a hankering for chocolate chip cookies, but I wanted something a little different. Looking in my pantry, I spied a jar of Jiff Creamy Peanut Butter. Yes, I am a choosy mother, and I do choose Jiff. Believe it or not, with as much baking as I have done, I’ve never made peanut butter cookies, so I had to go on Big Oven and find a recipe. I found one that looked like what I wanted to make, got Spane, and got started.

Now that we have a Nook HD tablet, I take it into the kitchen with me so I can look at my recipe without having to lug the computer in there. All I do is put the Nook in a clear plastic bag, and set it up against the wall. I think this is much better than paying over $300.00 for a dedicated kitchen tablet, my Nook was under $200.00. I can swipe the Nook through the plastic, and when I was making Christmas dinner, and trying to inject a turkey, then liquid exploded and got all over Spane and the Nook. Neither Spane nor the Nook were injured in any way.

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Szechuan Orange Pork Loin Roast

Recipes in This PostSzechwan Orange Pork Loin Roast

My son loves roast pork loin, and I do, too. It’s so tender, and flavorful, but can easily take on other flavors. One of the best things about pork loin is having a sandwich from the left overs. Chinese pork roast sandwiches are particularly good.

Originally, for my Chinese dinner, I was going to make the same Asian Pork Roast I made for Ascencia for Chinese New Year 2013, but when I looked in my pantry today, I spied a jar of orange marmalade and knew I had to make Szechuan Orange Pork Loin Roast instead. Cooking it in the Nesco made it simple, and kept the roast very moist and tender.

If you want to make this, and I hope you do, please understand that it is quite spicy, so you will probably want to have something with it to cool the palate. Fried rice is a good idea, or Asian Coleslaw. We kicked our dinner up a notch and had Szechuan Green Beans as well.

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Szechuan Green Beans

Recipes in This PostSzechewan Green Beans

This is for my friend, Adel Luzuriaga of Realty Benefit Systems, who introduced me to these wonderful beans at Harvest Inn in Glendale. Sadly, the restaurant is now closed, but the recipe lives on. I love beans made this way, and I’m glad that Adel and I were able to share them together.

I just finished reading 9 Dragons, a Harry Bosch novel. This time, Harry is in Hong Kong trying to rescue his kidnapped daughter. This book made me think about a few things.9dragons

  1. My son Spane, how I would react if something like that happened to my child.
  2. Eleanor Wish – I feel bad about what happened to her. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happened. No spoilers here!
  3. Chinese Food! Gosh, when I was reading this book all I could think about was good Chinese food, specifically, Szechuan Green Beans!

We missed Chinese New Year in 2014, but we’re making our own Chinese New Year with Szechuan Orange Pork Loin Roast, Fried Rice, Asian Coleslaw, and Szechuan Green Beans. I’m going to get out the wok my friend Joan Gearing gave me 20 years ago, and get cooking. I can’t wait!

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Just Say No to GMO Box Tops for Education

Say Hell No to Box Top$ for Education  GMO

Say “Hell No” to GMO Box Tops for Education

I don’t know about you, but it’s that time of year again. I got an email from my son’s school about a Box Tops for Education. I’m all for supporting my child’s school, but I’m not going to help grow these companies coffers at the expense of my, or any other, child’s expense.

Why Say No?

General Mills started Box Tops for Education in 1996. General Mills has contributed 525 million dollars to eduction. That’s about 29 million a year for 18 years. But, they also contributed $1,135,300.00 in November 2012 to help defeat California Prop 37 (Genetically Modified Food Labeling Initiative). In 2013, there were bills in 27 states to start labeling of GMO Foods. Of those 27, 6 were already defeated, 21 are still in process.

  • Colorado HB1192 was voted down
  • Maryland HB903 was withdrawn
  • Missouri HB246 was withdrawn and SB155 died
  • New Hampshire HB660 failed in 2014
  • New Mexico SB18 was voted down
  • Washington I-522 was defeated

Do the Math

If General Mills spent 1 million dollars in one state, California, they probably spent or are still spending 1 million for these other states as well. So, that’s about 27 million a year for those 27 states. There are 50 states in our Union, and I’m sure they are actively spending money in those states as well. There are 4 states, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont that passed bills requiring labeling of GMO foods. That’s 46 states where General Mills is probably spending money to stop labeling, and at 1 million a year, per state, that’s 46 million a year, 17 million more than is going out for education. In my humble opinion, that stinks! Of course, I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

What to Avoid

  • Betty Crocker
  • Gold Medal Flour
  • Yoplait
  • Bisquick
  • Pillsbury
  • Land 0 Lakes
  • Ocean Spray
  • Green Giant
  • Totino’s
  • Mott’s

You will notice that most of the foods listed here are prepared packaged foods that The Good Plate does not use, and I try to give you safe, homemade alternatives. If you look on labels, read ingredients, you can usually tell if it’s something to keep out of your kitchen. My motto is: “If I can’t pronounce it, I won’t buy it!”

Plastics, Too?

In July of 2013, the city that I live in banned plastic shopping bags in all major supermarkets and retailers. In January, 2014, the smaller shops had to comply as well. Why? Because plastic shopping bags don’t decompose and we have an island of trash in the Pacific Ocean, mostly composed to plastic bags. Guess what? Plastic bags are not indigenous to the Pacific Ocean.

Hefty garbage bags are eligible for Box Top$, too. Do they degrade? No, they just add to the existing garbage patch. Some estimates say the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is as large as the Continental United States. What can you do? Here’s what we’re doing in our house.

  • We’re using foil which can be wash and reused or recycled.
  • We’re using wax paper, which because it is paper, degrades
  • We’re reusing our plastic by washing it
  • We’re using paper bags from the supermarket for trash
  • We’re using glass for storage.
  • We’re using plastic food containers for food storage after thoroughly washing them.

Want to know more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Check National Geographic and WikiPedia for more information.

What’s Safe?

If your children are driving you crazy because they want you to buy Box Top$ products, there are two things that you can buy, Cascadian Farms Cereal and Horizon Organic.

Conclusion

I hope that I have given you some food for thought. Please shop responsibly.