To the Veterans, a Heartfelt Thank You

To all the Veterans who served and sacrificed, I wish you all a very heartfelt thank you.    On the 11th day of the 11th month, at the 11th hour, thanks to all the sacrifices you made, we are free.

In Belgium, the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, named after the poem and devoted to the First World War, is situated in one of Flanders’ largest tourist areas.  “In Flanders Fields” is a poem written by John McCrae during the first World War.

The poem describes poppies blooming between gravestones. Poppies are considered the battlefield flower, because they are the first to grow back after war pockmarks the landscape.  The war created prime conditions for poppies to flourish in Flanders and north-west France. Continual bombardment disturbed the soil and brought the seeds to the surface.  Its powerful use of the symbol of the poppies blooming from the churned earth led to the tradition, to this day, of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those killed in service. By 1917, “In Flanders Fields” was known throughout the English-speaking world.  Flanders Fields, the name of World War I battlefields in the medieval County of Flanders, which spans southern Belgium and north-west France. Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial, a World War I cemetery on the southeast edge of the town of Waregem, Belgium.

 

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.
I painted these pictures a while ago and thought they were perfect for today.
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As many of you know, my dad was originally from Melbourne, Australia.  Many of his relatives fought in WWI, and died in the fierce battles of Gallipoli.  The Gallipoli campaign, also known as the Dardanelles campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli or the Battle of Çanakkale (TurkishÇanakkale Savaşı).  It was a campaign of the First World War that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula (Gelibolu in modern Turkey), from 17 February 1915 to 9 January 1916.  The campaign is often considered to be the beginning of Australian and New Zealand national consciousness; 25 April, the anniversary of the landings, is known as ANZAC Day, the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in the two countries, surpassing Remembrance Day (Armistice Day).  My dad himself ran away at the age of 14, lied about his age and fought in the Australian Army in the battles of North Africa during WWII.  He was an ANZAC.  The ANZACS were members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.  One of his proudest moments, one of the last times he went back home to Australia, was to march in the ANZAC Parade.  When he emigrated to the United States, shortly after WWII, his life was in the Merchant Marines, where he also bravely fought in 2 additional wars.  He did military sea lift command for both Korea and Vietnam.  Thank you Daddy, and to all the other brave men and women who fought and served.  You will NEVER be forgotten.
My daddy, John Bailey Jones, circa 1939, before heading off to North Africa.
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Leftovers and Lentils

As I mentioned a few days ago, life has been very hectic and chaotic lately.  Sadly, when I am running from one place to the next and back again, there is not a lot of time to cook.  Fortunately, there are always some good stand byes that are quick, easy and convenient, and relatively healthy as well, not to mention, delicious.  Costco chicken is ALWAYS a very nice alternative to me cooking when time is tight.  We can usually get at least 2-3 meals out of a Costco chicken, depending on what I do with with.

This latest leftover creation was from some of that delicious Costco rotisserie chicken, and whatever else I could think of on the fly, based on what leftovers were in my fridge.  The Queen and I were on a roll.  I was pulling out this and that to make a tasty, impromptu meal.  I cooked up some lentils, and sauteed some spinach with mushrooms, garlic, and shallots, added the chicken, and some mozzarella cheese, then topped everything with a pistachio pesto and tomatoes.  I wasn’t sure if it would all work together, but magically, it did.  Especially with a good white wine and some warm olive bread to complete the meal.

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There is no real recipe for this, since it was literally a little of this and a little of that, but I can show you the process of how I put everything together.

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First, I started by cooking the lentils.  Then I sauteed the spinach, garlic, shallots, and salt and pepper together in oilve oil.

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Once those were cooked, I just started layering things on top of each other.  First, the lentils, then the spinach mixture.

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Followed by the chicken and the cheese.  I stuck it in the microwave to melt the cheese.

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Then I topped it all with the pistachio pesto and some chopped tomatoes.  The finish was a few additional chopped pistachios on top, with some warmed olive bread on the side.  Not to bad at all for some leftovers and quick, easy vegetables.  All it took was a little creativity and imagination, and VOILA!  Dinner is served.

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Who Wants to be Next?

Hello Everyone!  As you know, we are in a new month, and I am looking for November’s guest chef.  It can be any recipe, any dish.

You know the rules:

  1.  Send me your favorite recipe(s), with pictures
  2. At least 1 picture of you, the chef
  3. Describe your recipe/dish however you like
  4. First, last name and contact information and/or blog site
  5. Send everything to my email address at ljbjej@q.com

I always get so excited to see the recipes and dishes that come my way.   I can’t wait to see what you are cooking.

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What’s cookin’ in your kitchen?

 

Unwind with Wine

The last couple of days have been pretty stressful for me.  The best way to wind down and de-stress, at least for me, is with a glass or two of wine.  When the temperatures drop, it is even better to relax in front of the fire with that wine.  And to make it just perfect, add a good book to the mix.  Ahhhh!  Perfection!  This is the best way to unwind and get away from the world.

Wine is truly a gift from above and has been revered throughout the times.  Here are a few things that others have to say about the “nectars of the Gods”.

“Wine is like the incarnation – it is both divine and human”

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~ Paul Tillich, Philospoher and Theologian ~

 

“When it comes to wine, I tell people to throw away the vintage charts and invest in a corkscrew.  The best way to learn about wine is the drinking”.

~ Alexis Lichine, Wine Writer ~

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“To rich and poor alike hath He granted the delight of wine, that makes all pain to cease”.

~ Euripedes, one of the ancient Greek tragedians  ~

 

“Great wine requires a madman to grow the vine, a wise man to watch over it, a lucid poet to make it, and a lover to drink it”.

~ Salvador Dali, surrealist artist ~

Salvador Dali Eating

 

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup.  All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped; but with others, drink the whole bottle”.

~ Paulo Coelho, Brazilian novelist ~

Rendezvous With Paulo Coelho In Rio De Janeiro : News Photo

 

 

A Taste of Barcelona in My Kitchen

Is it from Barcelona Spain or is it from the restaurant Barcelona in the RiNo District of North Denver?  Actually, it is from both.  I made this delicious Castilian stew from my cookbook Barcelona, which is a cookbook of the restaurant’s recipes I bought when we went for my friend Janet’s birthday,  Birthday Celebrations – Part 2 – Barcelona  all of which are originally inspired from Spanish recipes from Barcelona, Spain. It’s all good.  Believe me!  There are so many delicious recipes just waiting for me to make  and try.  My big dilemma, ALWAYS, too many dishes, too little time.  Eventually I will get around to making them all.

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The recipe I made was a “morph” from the original Caldo Gallego.  A Caldo Gallego is a broth which is originally from the northern Spanish region of Galicia.  It is a dish with very humble beginnings, associated with the farmers of Spain.  The recipe is one that varies from season to season, region to region, and household to household.  Since it is a dish of the farmers, it was basically whatever they grew in their own gardens or had as their livestock on their own ranches that was all thrown together into this very tasty, savory stew.  Caldo Gallego is traditionally eaten in the colder months since it is a dish meant to be served very hot.   This particular stew was loaded with pork.  It had bacon, ham and chorizo.  Sorry, this stew is not for vegetarians.  You’ve got to love meat and you’ve got to love pork to really enjoy this dish.

 

 

Castilian Stew

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1/2 lb cooked ham, large dice

1/2 lb bacon, diced

2 cups chorizo

1/2 cup olive oil

1 large shallot, diced fine

2 TBSP garlic

1/2 red bell pepper, medium dice

2 large potatoes, peeled and medium dice

2 cans tomatoes, with their juice

6 cups spinach, cut rough

5-6 cups chicken broth

salt & pepper to taste

red pepper flakes to taste

 

In a large soup pot that is very hot, cook the bacon and the chorizo in the olive oil over a medium high heat for about 10 minutes.  Add the ham, the garlic, peppers, shallots and the potatoes and mix everything together thoroughly.

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Add the tomatoes and the chicken broth and the seasonings.  Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

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When the potatoes are tender, add the spinach and mix in with the stew.  Serve the stew immediately with the warm bread and wine. Esta muy delicioso!

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This was yet another simple dinner, with the Castilian stew, warmed olive bread and a bold red blend.  This is a perfect dish for a cold and chilly night.  Ever since we got back from Spain, there have been many more Spanish influences in my cooking.  This was my first recipe out of many more to come from new Barcelona Cookbook.

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*** The restaurant Barcelona is located at 2900 Larimer Street, Denver, Co 80205.  You can contact them at (303) 816-3300 or go to their website at barcelonawinebar.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Twist

I hate it when I follow a recipe and the recipe just doesn’t turn out quite the way I expected or hoped.  Ironically, when I make up own recipes and/or do my own thing, they always turn out better.  Oh well.  As I have always said, recipes are just guidelines and suggestions any way.  Recipes Are Just Suggestions  I found this beautiful recipe that I was very excited about and that I couldn’t wait to try too.  It did still end up tasting very, very good, but my presentation was not what I was looking for at all.  No worries, all that means is that I need to keep working on it.  Hopefully next time it will not only taste delicious, but well look pretty as well.

I love pumpkin everything, especially in the fall, so when I found this recipe for a pumpkin cinnamon twist I was stoked.  It came out just as it was supposed to until it came time to making the twist in the skillet.  That’s where it all started to unravel, or to come un-twisted.  I think the problem was my skillet was to large for the size of the bread dough.  As you can see, mine did not look anything like the picture.  Live and learn though, right?!  Now I know what I need to change next time.  As I said though, it still tasted very good, and in the end, that is really all the matters.

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Pumpkin-Cinnamon Twist

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Pumpkin Dough

1/2 cup warm water

2 TBSP sugar

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast, or 1 package

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 TBSP melted butter

 

Mix the sugar, water and yeast together and let set and rest for about 5 or so minutes, or until the mixtures becomes frothy.

Carefully mix the flour, salt and spices together in a mixer.  Then blend in the yeast mixture, the pumpkin puree and the butter, mixing at  low speed just until everything is combined.  Then switch from the beater to a dough hook and continue to mix until the dough is smooth and elastic.  This should take about 7 minutes.

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Once the dough is formed, oil the bowl and and cover the dough to rest in a warm area for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

 

The Filling

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

2 TBSP cinnamon

dash of salt

 

Mix the sugar, butter, salt and cinnamon together until it is crumbly.

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Spray a 10″ skillet with cooking spray

When the dough is ready, roll it out into a 16×12″ rectangle on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness.

Then spread the butter, sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about 1/4 inch clear all around the edges.  Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the mixture.  My cinnamon sugar mixture came out more like a paste, which is OK too, just evenly spread it around the dough.  Once in the oven, it will melt and spread.

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Roll the dough tightly into a log.  So up until this point, everything came out just the way it was supposed to.  When you have the log made, you can cut it into pieces about 1 1/4-1 1/2 inches thick and make pumpkin cinnamon rolls too.  Perhaps, that is what I should have done.  But to make the twist, and not rolls, cut the dough in 1/2 lengthwise, with about 2 inches at the top in tact and carefully twist the dough, making sure the sides stay up.  Pinch the ends together so none of the filling comes out.  Spiral the dough into the skillet.  Cover and let the dough rise again for about 45-60 additional minutes.  (Now I know what I did wrong.  I thought it needed a second rise, but for whatever reason, I completely missed this step.  I did not realize this until just now.  See, even I make stupid mistakes in the kitchen too.  I would love to blame this on the fact that I made this was injured, but unfortunately, that was not the case at the time.  It was just me with too much on my plate at the time, once again trying to do too much in a rush).

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Preheat the oven to 350*F or 180* C

 

After the second rise, bake the twist for about 30-40 minutes or until it is golden brown.  remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before adding the glaze and cutting it.

 

The Glaze

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

 

Mix together thoroughly and drizzle over the bread.  Serve warm and enjoy.

This is what the Pumpkin-Cinnamon Twist was supposed to look like.  It will, especially now that I know what I did wrong.  Let’s just consider this a learning experience for all of us, myself included.  🙂

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A Care Package from Priscilla

My dear friend Priscilla heard about my wrist and sent over a delicious care package to help things out.  She made a delicious tomato and herb soup, some cornbread and some festive sugar cookies.  She is always so thoughtful.  This is one of the many, many reasons why I love her so much.  We have known each other for about 45 years, and every year just keeps getting better and better.

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