Monthly Archives: January 2023

Victory Garden Update and a Recipe

On Martin Luther King Jr. day Tom and I attended a meeting for the Victory Garden at St. Catherine Laboure church where we volunteer. The garden serves multiple purposes. One of the primary missions is to raise produce for food pantries. We are going to be growing vegetables and herbs. One topic that came up in the meeting that has been making me think strategically is that different clientele at different food pantries have preferences for certain foods. If the clientele does not know how to prepare the vegetable or herb and is not familiar with it, they might leave it behind. The people at the Victory Garden have been learning what foods are in demand at what food pantry locations and have been adjusting the distribution and growing patterns to suit the local clientele.

In addition to adjusting supply, it was suggested to also adjust demand by distributing recipes. There are lots of reasons why everyone isn’t familiar with every vegetable or knows how to cook it. Some people are from parts of the world where the cuisine is different. Others might have a lack of grocery stores in their area so have less access to a variety of fresh foods. I also have known several people with plenty of access to food who have never learned to cook because they rely mostly on pizza and fast food. I have seen terrible health issues in some of my friends at relatively early ages due to this kind of deficient diet. It doesn’t have to be this way!

I have been blessed to have been taught to cook by my Mom who was not only a home gardener and a multiple culinary contest winner, but also had a very adventurous palette. She passed on knowledge of cooking and diverse food preferences to me and my late brother. When we were younger my brother and I used to get a silver dollar or a silver half-dollar from a great uncle if we finished all the food on our plates when we had dinner at his house. I guess we kind of neglected to admit that we almost always ate all our food, including the vegetables! We liked almost everything and had pretty hearty appetites. That was decent money when our weekly allowances were about that amount or not much more than that!

I am not a professional chef or food writer but I do like to publish recipes from time to time. I know so many people who are intimidated by food preparation. If I publish a simple recipe that I just made I hope that will inspire someone out there to try it. Since I cook a lot with herbs that I grow I also hope I can suggest ways of using them. A lot of people who don’t cook frequently are very intimidated by dried prepared herbs and spices, much less fresh ones. If you’ve been exposed to a wide range of herbs, spices and flavors your whole life you just know what goes together without having to follow a recipe. I don’t know how you teach this without long-term exposure but at least with a recipe I can show examples of combinations that work.

I am in terrible shape from recent inactivity so I’ll be using recipes from Weight Watchers and healthy recipe books a lot for inspiration as I try to increase my fitness. I inherited a lot of these books from my late uncle, brother, and grandmother. I often start from there and make modifications. If the results are good, I like to tell people about it!

Before I get to a simple new salad recipe, I’ll post links to my Fun With Food page (old but recipes still good!) and recipes of mine that are on blogs.

Fun With Food

The Food section on this blog

The Good Eating section on the Schnarr’s Hardware blog

Recipe: Beet and White Bean Salad with Sardines

Beet and White Bean Salad with Sardines
Beet and White Bean Salad with Sardines

For inspiration I used a recipe called “Dilled Beet and White Bean Salad” (Gagliardi 70) from a Weight Watchers cook book, but I made a lot of changes and substitutions. For one thing, we had no dill! It still turned out great. It really woke up my taste buds.

Ingredients

3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
2 tsp brown mustard
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 bag of mini sweet peppers, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp dried Parsley
1 tsp dried Basil
1 tsp dried celery pieces
1 jar sliced beets
1 can sardines
1 bag fresh mixed salad greens, such as spring mix, spinach/arugula mix, or something similar
Nutritional yeast

Directions

Get out a large mixing bowl. Open the can of sardines and empty the juice into the bowl. Set drained sardines aside.

Add to the bowl the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, garlic salt, Parsley, Basil and celery pieces. Mix well with a whisk.

Add the drained beans, chopped peppers, onion and tomatoes. Toss well.

Place greens on plates and spoon about 1/4 of the vegetables over the greens per serving. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Arrange about 5 beet slices and 4 sardines on top of each salad. Enjoy!

Works Cited

Gagliardi, Nancy, Creative and Editorial Director. WeightWatchers Ultimate Flex&Core Cookbook. Weight Watchers International, 2006.

Zentangle – fun with doodling

When I was in grade school in the 1970s, I developed an unquenchable doodling habit early on. I covered almost everything in sight with doodles, including my brown paper textbook covers, folders, notebooks and tops of desks – I used pencil on the Formica tops so it would wash off. I thought my habit was harmless and decidedly my own business because I only doodled on my own property or with media that was washable, and I refrained from doodling on homework. I remember that my third grade teacher didn’t agree with that point of view at first and would try to curb my habit by confiscating my implements whenever she saw me doodling away. I don’t think that lasted long. My Mom complained to her about it and gave me extra pens and pencils so I’d always have another one anyway. I was mostly an obedient child but this is one area where I flat out refused to conform. Before too long I was left alone as long as I washed my desk top periodically. That seemed fair to me and all was peaceful from then on.

A popular item I remember from the 1970s was a DoodleArt kit. These were basically sophisticated coloring posters for older kids, teenagers, and adults. The black and white design was Doodled for you and the consumer was meant to color them in with colored markers. As I recall these were sought after items by myself and my peers in the 70s. While shopping at the toy store and the craft store I would drool over them. If I got one for Christmas or a birthday it was a thrill. Here is a link to a vintage DoodleArt kit for sale on Etsy, and I also found an apparently attempted DoodleArt revival on Facebook.

In the present day, many adults once more enjoy adult coloring, similar to actual DoodleArt. Many people like related activities such as art journaling and bullet journaling. Popular Zentangle is a form of meditative pen and ink art where the artist fills in sections of a design with repeating patterns, usually in black pen or marker. Some people add color to their Zentangle designs. Zentangle results do remind me of DoodleArt in a way, though Zentangle practitioners freehand draw their own designs instead of purchasing pre-made coloring pages.

A lot of my art journal pages are somewhat similar to Zentangle, in that I often like to fill in sections with repeating patterns, sometimes hand-drawn, sometimes traced from a stencil. Whenever I put some of my new art journal pages on Pinterest, in the area where you are shown similar pins to your own, a lot of Zentangle art comes up in my feed. I decided just for fun to try Zentangle for real just to learn a variation on what I already like to do. It really scratches that doodling itch that I still have!

There are lots of samples online of fill-in textures that you can draw in your Zentangle designs. I’ve linked to a few on a Pinterest board so you can see samples and get inspiration. After viewing some samples I decided to make a few of my own samplers featuring my own textures inspired by art journal pages I’ve already done. Here are some easy instructions for making your own sampler.

Tools and Materials
Drawing paper
Ruler
Pencil
Eraser
Selection of fine tip black pens and markers of different diameters
Optional – circle template

Zentangle sampler
Use a ruler and pencil to divide drawing paper into evenly sized squares or rectangles.
Zentangle sampler
Outline areas in one thin line and one slightly thicker line. Fill in each section with a hand-drawn texture of your invention. Erase the pencil lines as you fill in the paper.
Zentangle sampler
As a variation, on a second piece of drawing paper I slanted the lines to make more irregularly shaped sections to fill in.
Zentangle sampler
Yet another variation made by tracing four different sized openings from a circle template.

Some samplers I’ve seen online are works of art in their own right. The ones you see here are not that refined – they are more for practice and developing a vocabulary of textures that reflect my own taste in design. When I’m ready I’ll have lots of choices I can use to make my own version of Zentangle art.