Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stir Fried Oyster Mushrooms


  • 1 large clump of oyster mushrooms, separated into individual mushrooms
  • 1 TB sesame oil
  • 1 TB Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 1 Tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger spread
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Excluding the mushrooms, whisk all ingredients in a small bowl to make a dressing.
  • Toss dressing with mushrooms.
  • Fry in a wok on very high heat for two or three minutes

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Morning at the Farmer's Market


Well, I was a good girl today and left my camera at home when my husband and I went to the farmer's market to meet an old highschool friend. What could be more distracting when visiting an old friend than me ducking around trying to get pictures of everything?

My friend and I had yummy huevos mexicanos and tirados while waiting for Richard to stand in the longest line in the whole place for some pancakes.

I managed to stick to my list, which was extensive as I hadn't been to the market in over a week. My haul ended up including 3 bundles of carrots that looked like they had just been plucked out of the ground, bok choy, garlic, a pot of lemongrass to plant in the garden, cilantro, mint, thai basil, and another herb from the Asian vendors that we love (but I don't have a clue as to its name), cucumbers, two kinds of oyster mushrooms, and sweet potato treats for Patty.

I spent the early part of the morning preserving some of the veggies for the rest of the week, including Duo Gai and Simple Refrigerator Pickles.


Friday, May 22, 2009

The Garden--May 22

I can't believe how fast everything is growing now! It seems like since it finally stopped raining everything is thriving.

Little roma tomatoes

Cucumbers, with a row of okra in the background

A very blurry picture of how tall the pole beans are getting--
I was just too lazy to go out and get another shot!

The basil is finally poking up!

I'm slowly filling up a sandwich bag that I've been keeping up in the freezer with blackberries that are growing along the fenceline of the yard. I'm hoping I'll end up with enough to make a small batch of preserves.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Pastitsio, spanikopita, and greek salad

Well, it's been a busy week and here it is Thursday and I'm finally posting up pictures from our visit to the Greek Food Festival on Sunday. Richard's Mom came down for the day and we were very excited to have a guest to share the experience with. We also ran into some friends that we hadn't seen in awhile. It was old home week!

Richard and his Mom on the trolley

Since we had Richard's mom with us we parked and took the trolley instead of walking up the hill. Standing room only when we got on--it was harder to hold on and stay upright than I thought it would be, especially since my hands were still a little greasy from sunblock!

From top to bottom, left to right: 1. falafel, tabouleh, and hummus 2. Greek sausage, feta cheese, and flatbread 3. gyros 4. calamari 5. Pastitsio booth 6. some of the volunteer cooks

It has been raining nearly non-stop for the last three weeks here in Arkansas, so we were very excited to actually have a sunny day! We stuffed ourselves silly and kept playing musical chairs to get closer to the entertainment as people got up.

Greek dancers, and nesting dolls from the craft fair inside the church.

Unfortunately, we missed the Indian dancers by waiting until the last day to attend the festival, but we love the Greek dancers and the Middle Eastern dancers as well.

Middle Eastern dancers

On the way back the the car, stomachs full and feeling contented, we were very glad to be seated on the trolley!

Richard and his mom on the way back to the car

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Little Rock, Arkansas 25th Annual Greek Food Festival

Photos from a tour through the church.

Well, this is the big weekend! The Greek Food Festival started on Friday, but as I had to work Friday night and then turn around and go back to work this morning (Saturday), we didn't make it over there until this evening.

We actually hadn't planned on going this evening, we were planning on spending all day Sunday over there. But when I got off work, we decided that it wouldn't hurt to run over and grab something for supper and then turn around and go back tomorrow to watch all the entertainment and run through the craft show--and, of course, eat lots more food!

So right now my tummy is full of yummy patstitsio, spanikopita, and Greek salad. And here in a minute when I get done posting I'm going to make some tea to go with the sourota (Greek pastry) we purchased on our way out.

Since I didn't bring my camera tonight, as it was an eat and run, I'll leave you with some pictures from last years visit to the food festival.

Greek Dancers

Bulgarian Dancers

Russian Dancer and Child

A series of photos of the Indian dancers, experimenting
with a slow shutter speed, overexposure, and oversaturation of colors.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oyster Mushroom and Rice Noodle Salad

  • 1/2 lb oyster mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 TB sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, small dice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 bundle of cooked rice noodles
  • 1 large scallion, trimmed, and cut lengthwise in thin slices
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cucumber cut into long thin slices
  • 2 TB lime juice
  • 2 TB thai fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 TB sugar
  • Mix the dressing together, and toss half with the cooked noodles, put aside.
  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Separate the clumps of oyster mushrooms.
  • Brush with sesame oil.
  • Broil on both sides until golden and crisped up on the edges.
  • Heat the oil and stirfry the garlic, stir in the salt and sugar and remove from the heat.
  • Toss the garlic mixture with the cooked mushrooms.
  • Add the mushrooms, scallion, and coriander to the noodles, tossing gently.
  • Line a dish with the sliced cucumbers.
  • Mound noodles in the center and add the rest of the dressing immediately before serving.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Simple Refrigerator Pickles

I go crazy at the farmer's market and almost always buy more than I can use in just a few days. I ran across this simple way of pickling vegetables in a couple of Japanese and Vietnamese cookbooks years ago and use it every summer to have crisp and cool vegetables with almost every meal. They last in the fridge for at least a week or two--to be honest I've always eaten them before they went bad, so I'm not really sure how long they'd last if I left them!

  • 1 LB pickling vegetables (I've used carrot, daikon, and cucumber over the years, pictured are the carrot and cucumber)
  • 1 TB kosher or sea salt
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 1/3 cup vinegar (try rice vinegar if you want more authentically asian pickles)
  • Cut the vegetables into the desired shape. I shred carrots and daikon as if for coleslaw, and slice the cucumbers long and thin.
  • Put the vegetables in a mixing bowl and mix in the salt.

  • Cover the vegetables with a plate that is about the same diameter as the bottom of the mixing bowl and place something heavy on the plate to press the water out of the vegetables--I use some old weights from a weight machine that aren't getting any other use! Leave it sitting for at least 45 minutes.

  • You should end up with a lot of vegetable juice.

This is one of the few flavorings I don't save--too salty!
  • Whisk together the sugar and vinegar, until it is completely dissolved. Some recipes I've used say to bring the sugar and salt to a boil in a saucepan and some don't. I usually do, as much as anything because the first recipe I ever used said to, and I've gotten in the habit.
  • Drain and rinse the vegetables in a colander and then put in a quart size ziploc bag.
  • Pour the sugar and vinegar mixture over the vegetables and place in the refrigerator. Carrots and daikon should be refrigerated for about 24 hours before they are ready to serve, however the cucumbers are ready in about 4 to 6 hours.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Garden--May 11

The tomato plants are growing taller every day and starting to bloom.



The beans are starting to climb the fence.


And the cucumbers are getting leafier by the day.

So far the garden is surviving what seems to be turning into Arkansas' version of a monsoon season! Right now Patty is the only one really enjoying the flooding in the backyard.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Great-Grandma Hazel Marlow's Poppy Seed Torte

John Marlow and Hazel Caldie Marlow on their Wedding Day in 1912

After I got off the phone with Mom and then my maternal grandmother ("Granny") this Mother's Day morning, I was thinking about food--as you know I often do. Go figure!

Several years ago I was reading a book about ethnic food traditions in America and the foods we inherit through our mothers. I remember quizzing Mom and Granny to death on the foods that they both grew up on. I have tons of notes somewhere that I took, probably buried with my geneaology stuff that is a come and go hobby, but some of the things I remember them talking about was the huge gardens (Granny was raising twelve kids on Grandpa's small salary) and all the potatoes down in the cellar, about night-time smelt runs, and kolaches, the Friday fish frys at Grandpa Thibodeau's ice cream parlour, and my mom's paternal Grandma Hazel Marlow's frosting--which was evidently something amazing.

Great-Grandpa Thibodeau's ice cream parlour (in an earlier incarnation as a "confectionary store")in Ashland, WI. Pictured are his brother William and sister Gertrude, circa 1910. My Granny, Lorraine Thibodeau Marlow, grew up in the above apartment.

You may have gathered from the above description that my Mother's family is not from the South! Mom is mostly descended from French Canadians who immigrated to Wisconsin at the turn of the century. Except my Great-Grandfather married a half Scottish lady (the other half, of course, was Canadian French), Hazel Caldie, whose grandfather Thomas Caldie had hacked their farm out of the wilderness in 1862 near what would become Stiles, Wisconsin.

The extended Marlow family sometime in the twenties, probably on the farm (I think outside Denmark, Wisconsin). Grandma Hazel Caldie Marlow is circled, one of my great uncles is directly below her, the man above her is my Great-Grandpa John Marlow, and on his lap is another of my great uncles (my Grandpa wasn't born yet). I believe the rather stern looking lady in the top row center is my great-great Grandma Marlow (doesn't she just look like the matriarch of a farm family?), and the graying gentleman with the moustache and white shirt to the left is my great-great Grandpa Marlow.

I never did get the frosting recipe, but Mom managed to track down some of Grandma Hazel's other recipes from my Great Aunt Bev, who still had an old recipe box of Grandma Hazel's. My Aunt Mary evidentally requested this recipe, which she had childhood memories of:

Poppy Seed Torte


  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup poppy seed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6Tbls. flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1t vanilla
  • 3 egg whites
  • 6 TB sugar
  • Mix crumbs sugar & butter. Reserve 1/2 cup for topping.
  • Mix poppyseed, sugar, flour, salt & 1/2 cup milk to smooth paste.
  • Scald 1 1/2 cups milk, add the flour mixture slowly.
  • Boil 5 minutes (turn the heat down if necessary)
  • Beat egg yolks & vanilla, add slowly to custard white stirring rapidly & cook five more minutes.
  • Cool.
  • Put the mixture of crumbs, brown sugar & butter in pyrex pan. Pour custard over. Beat egg whites stiff , add 6Tbls. sugar, beat until thick & holds peaks.
  • Put over top and sprinkle with crumbs. Bake 15 minutes at 325 degrees.
Like most of the family recipes from Wisconsin, this is not Scottish, or French Candadian, but Eastern European! Which, I always find rather amusing, since it is actually on my Dad's side of the family (Nebraskan pioneers) that I'm descended in part from Bohemians (the Tesars). If you are interested in Wisconsin cuisine visit Wisconsin food writer Terese Allen's web page.


Grandma Hazel with one of the "boys" (my mom had eight brothers!, who knows which one this is?)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Strawberry Preserves


We bought a pound and a half of strawberries at the Argenta farmer's market on Tuesday. I knew there was no way that the two of us would go through that many strawberries before they started getting bruised and soft, so I decided to make strawberry preserves.

I also still had about a cup of orange syrup from making the Candied Orange Peel, which I substituted for the 1/2 a cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 LB stawberries, washed, trimmed, and cut into bite size pieces

  • Stir the sugar and water over low heat to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a boil.
  • Add one half of the strawberries to the syrup and let return to a boil.
  • Cook the fruit for one minute.
  • Use a slotted spoon and transfer the berries to a colander set over another dish to catch the drips.
  • Stirring occasionally, boil the syrup for about five minutes to reduce to original volume.
  • Cook the second batch of berries in the syrup for one minute.
  • Transfer to the colander.
  • Tip the juices from the strawberries into the syrup.
  • Boil the syrup for another five minutes.
  • Add the berries back to the syrup, and allow to simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Spoon into a sterile jar--the preserves will keep for up to six months in the fridge, if you want to store them longer, process them in a boiling water bath.

I served mine with Fry Bread for breakfast.


Was it worth the mess?



Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Potato Cakes


  • 1 large russet potato, shredded
  • 1 small carrot, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • Combine ingredients in a small mixing bowl
  • Heat oil on a skillet, and drop 1/4 cup vegetable batter in the oil for each pancake.
  • Cook until golden, flip and cook other side until golden.
  • Serve with Nuoc Cham.
Other possible ingredients: shredded scallions, shredded zuchinni, chopped herbs such as cilantro or chives, etc.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Another Day in the Garden


Patty and I spent the whole morning outside. She spent her time smelling everything and chasing birds and squirrels, and I weeded--then we played frisbee and tug of war. It felt like Spring again, cool and drizzly. I can't believe how fast everything is popping up out of the ground!