Tuscan Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup

Tuscan kale and white Bean smallI know I post a lot of soup and stew recipes but they are the best way to stretch your groceries to feed a lot of people for several meals. I have been trying make my groceries go farther and farther as I watch their prices go up and up. I realized, finally, why peasant cooking is the way it is. And I cast no dispersions on peasant cooking that is my heritage. The women of the house had to make everything last and they did this by using every bit of the meat proteins and vegetables. Cutting small pieces so everyone gets some. And using the bones and scraps to make broth and scrapple. I think about the large portions of dishes served in Western style restaurants and how they differ from the dishes I serve. I love to eat a big strip steak or ribeye but I also appreciate the humble origins of my at home cooking style.

  • 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil or Butter
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves of Garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 ribs Celery, diced
  • 3 medium Carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 cups packed Tuscan Kale, chopped and tough stems removed
  • 6 cups Vegetable Broth, store bought or home made
  • 1 can (14 ozs) White Kidney Beans / Cannellini Beans, undrained
  • 1 can (14 ozs) Italian style Diced Tomatoes
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian Herbs
  • 1 tablespoon dried Parsley

In a large soup pot heat the oil/butter over medium high heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and kale. Sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, beans, Italian herbs, parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Serve with bread and an optional topping of Parmesan Cheese.

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Red Chinese Noodle Beans

Red Noodle beans smallI have been very fortunate during this growing season. My Red Chinese Noodle Beans have produced a bumper crop. These beans are usually more than a foot in length but still tender. I bought my package of these heirloom green beans from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri about 5 years ago and they have not disappointed me. After that first purchase I have been able to save my seeds and replant the following year.  The green beans in this photo are Yard Long Beans. They don’t produce as vigorously as the red beans. As I said I have been fortunate this year. The spring was nice and warm, the Oklahoma summer was not too oppressive and my brother was able to keep the garden watered. Now with the cool snap in the air, the vines are producing again. In addition to meals and soups I made over the summer, I have 8 gallon bags of cut beans in my deep freeze.

It is so easy to freeze and preserve these beans. I trim them, cut them into 2 inch pieces, blanch them in boiling water for one minute and then I shock them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Before I put them in one gallon freezer bags I let them drain the excess water. I label and pop them in the freezer. Viola good eating for the winter. When you want to use them separate what you need for the recipe and stash the rest back in the freezer.

P.S. I just noticed that I really need to oil my Butcher’s Block.

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Venison and Barley Stew

Venison and Barley smallBarley really needs to find a place in American pantries again. It is a powerhouse whole grain that is high in fiber and high in veg protein. Most barley grown in America today will be used to make barley malt used in the production of beer. Now I like beer but I would like to see barley used in healthy from scratch cooking in American homes. There are different styles of barley in food stores. I used the quick cook barley that most people see on store shelves. The quick cook is just that. You can put a cup of barley in a soup or stew and 10 minutes later it is cooked. Other types take much longer up to  1 to 2 hours, depending on pre-soak, due to the hull. In my venison recipes all of the meat is taken on my property. This stew can be easily doubled with leftovers packaged in single servings and frozen.

  •  3 tablespoons Mary’s Oil Blend (recipe follows) or use your choice of cooking oil
  • 1 pound ground Venison, lean Beef, or Bison
  • 1 large Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 2 large Potatoes, peeled and small diced
  • 2 teaspoons Celery Seeds
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • 3 ½ cups low sodium Beef Broth, store bought or homemade
  • 2 cans (14 ozs.) Diced Tomatoes, traditional flavored, undrained
  • 2 cans (14 ozs) Margret Holmes brand Field Peas and Snap Beans, undrained (If you don’t have that brand you can use red beans or pinto beans or Black Eyed Peas)
  • 5 medium Carrots, peeled and cut on a diagonal oval ie Chinese restaurant style
  • 1 cup Quick Cook Barley


In a large cast iron Dutch Oven or large soup pot, place the cooking oil. Over medium high heat brown the ground meat about 5 minutes. Add the onion, green pepper, celery seeds and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add all remaining ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Mary’s Oil Blend

This recipe comes from Mary Enig and Sally Fallon’s “Eat Fat, Lose Fat”

  • 1 cup Coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup cold pressed unflavored and untoasted Sesame Oil

Blend together in a glass jar and keep on the kitchen counter.

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Crown Royal Cookies

Crown Royal CookiesI found this on Facebook and have not tried them yet but and I am going out on a limb here folks to say that they will be goooood!

This past weekend I was in Tulsa for a liquor tradeshow in conjunction with my town job. I tasted some good products and feature some of them on my other blog “Just a Little Whisky” blog. I have had that page but have not got aroun’ to it as they say aroun’ here. For now happy baking  and enjoy!

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OkieRanchWife’s Turnip Greens Soup

Turnip Greens Soup smallI confess I would not have eaten this soup about 10 years ago, but since I moved south of the Mason-Dixon Line and west of the Mississippi River I really like this soup. I do have many soup favorites but this one is in my top 10. Paired with a nice garlic bread and oh WOW!!

  •  1 lb Hot Pork Sausage (or 1 lb sliced Polish Kielbasa)
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 package Onion Soup mix
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning
  • 5 cups reduced sodium Chicken broth, store bought or home made
  • 2 cans (27 ozs) Turnip Greens ( I use a Southern Seasoned type)
  • 1 can (15 ozs) Blackeye Peas or Purple Hulled Peas, drained
  • 1 can (15 ozs) Pinto Beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ozs) Cannellini Beans or Great Northern Beans, drained
  • 1 -2 teaspoons Habanera Hot Sauce

Brown meat in a soup pot or Dutch Oven over medium high heat. Don’t use any added oil if using the pork sausage. Use a teaspoon of oil if using kielbasa. Add onion cook until the pork or kielbasa is no longer pink.

Stir in the onion soup mix, garlic powder, and Cajun seasoning. Add chicken broth and all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook for 1 hour.

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Beef or Venison and Red Wine Stew

Beef and Red Wine Stew smallI’m sorry the photo of the stew makes it look a little sloppy but I was in a hurry to take the photo and eat. I didn’t clean the sides of the pot as I should have. But this is a great recipe from “The Flavors of Country Cooking” by Country Living. I am a fool for slow cooked beef. This recipe features it perfectly. Please do take the time to make this on a weekend because it needs at least 2 ½ hours to cook but is so worth it. And don’t rush the browning process for the beef or venison. That is where you start to build up the layers of flavor in the pot and when you deglaze with the red wine all of the browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pot is released in all of its great tasting glory.

5 slices Apple Wood Smoked Bacon
4 pounds Beef, Venison or Bison, any cut, cubed in 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup All Purpose Flour or Wondra
1-2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
2 medium Onions, chopped
2 medium Carrots, sliced
1 tablespoon Garlic, minced
1 bottle (750 ML) red Wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Merlot
1 cup Beef Stock, homemade or store bought
2 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 can (28 ozs) Diced Tomatoes
2 Bay Leaves
¾ teaspoon Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large Dutch Oven preferably cast iron, cook bacon until browned. Remove from pot and drain on paper towels and crumble. Set aside. Pour off half of the bacon grease and reserve. Place the flour in a gallon baggie. In batched toss the beef cubes in the flour until well coated. Add meat in batches to the pot and cook until well browned. Don’t rush this step. It will pay off later with huge flavor. Place all browned beef in a large bowl, add in the bacon and bacon fat mix.
In the pot add the onions, and sauté until golden brown for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic. It will turn bitter. Remove the onion mix from the pot and mix with the beef. Turn the heat up to high for about 1 -2 minutes. Add the red wine. The pot will sizzle. Keep stirring to get the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat and add all remaining ingredients. Stir. Place in oven and cook for at least 2 ½ hours. Serve over noodles or by itself with garlic bread. Enjoy!

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Buttermilk fried okra smallLast night when I got home from my town job I made a typical Southern Meal, pan fried ham steak with a Crown Royal Maple Whiskey drizzle (ok so the Crown Royal may not be so typical Southern but it was good), black eyed peas and fried okra. The okra defiantly was the star of the meal. I picked it in my garden before I went to work so it was fresh, fresh, fresh! The recipe is from Southern Living magazine July 2010. I have tried other fried okra recipes but they just didn’t measure up. Most of the time the breading fell off during the frying process. This breading didn’t. This will be my go to recipe for okra.

1 pound fresh Okra, cut into ½ inch slices (cap discarded. I gave them to my chickens)
¾ cup Buttermilk
1 cup self raising White Cornmeal mix
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Sea Salt or Kosher
1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning (Or use my recipe http://wp.me/p1qGwH-31)
Vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl place okra in the buttermilk. Let soak. In another large bowl mix cornmeal, sugar, salt, Cajun seasoning and mix well.
In batches remove the okra from the buttermilk and dredge into the cornmeal mix. Let sit in a colander to shake off excess cornmeal.
Put vegetable oil in large tall sided skillet or Dutch oven. Cast iron works best for even heat distribution. Cover the bottom of the skillet with at least one inch. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Fry okra in batches 4 minutes or until golden brown turning once. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

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