Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Feathered Ladies (Chicken Update)

Yes, I am still ailing. It feels like forever, right? Try being in my shoes.

I managed a few recipes this week and will work on getting the posts up. In the meantime, here are a few shots of my chickens. People love these sassy ladies, and their delicious eggs.

Chatty Cathy pushing her way to the front of the flock. 

Ramona looking for a treat (they are spoiled rotten, watch your fingers). 

Ramona and Starbuck enjoying the camera. 

Starbuck checking things out. 

Precious, right? That is exactly how I feel about them. 

Photos: AmandalePanda

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Is There Anything Else Besides Rafting?

Currently, my body has informed me that it's a little pissed at me. Does yours ever do this to you? Summer tends to be the time of year where I go for the gold, rushing in as many activities, trips, events, festivals, BBQs, and who knows what else into a few short months. In the span of the last month or so I attended Oregon Country Fair, held the First Annual Umpqua Campout, moved (nearly forgot that one), put in a garden, and rafted both the McKenzie River as a day float and the Rogue River as a 3-day float. The last week alone entailed coming off the river, attempting twice to fly across the country for a feverish consulting gig, and turn right back around to fly home. And for the grand finale - discovering I may have a fairly heady illness which requires more resting and down time than I care for.

Yes, my eyes are a bit bigger than my ability to do things. ;) You should see my bucket list; it is ginormous! Yet I digress, and should stick to what summers are about for me. Rafting! And of course - cooking.

Here is a shot of most of the boats (the green edge to the left side is also one of ours). We had a delightful 3-day journey down the Rogue last weekend, complete with 11 folks, 6 boats, and 1 adorable puppy named Ozzy.

Check out those eyes. Don't you want to play with him? It was his first river trip and he did great!

This is the Beige Beauty in all her splendor. She took a beating this trip as we found ourselves pinned on a not-so-favorable rock in the midst of Blossom Bar rapids last weekend. Email me if you want a full account of our very exciting ride through... hehehe.

As is the case with nearly all of our rafting trips, we assign out meals to make things fair for everyone. This trip our group had dinner duty on the second evening of our watery journey. After racking my brain for a fairly inexpensive meal which we could make ahead of time and freeze (we are always running out of ice on our trips), I remembered my old favorite chili recipe.

This is a recipe I have had for a decade or so, very user-friendly and easy to modify for vegans, allergies, etc. And it hasn't done me wrong yet. For this trip, I made a vegetarian version that was extra spicy for my veggie crew and a larger meat version made with andouille sausage minus the mushrooms. I used the same base chili and then portioned it out for the extended recipes. And of course, I made it too spicy for some tender palated people!

To accompany the pre-made and by then thawed chili, we served some cornbread made with canned jalapeño chilis and al dente green beans.

The chili recipe itself is a fairly easy one, hence the loosely written recipe bellow. Mainly, it is the time and construction of spices and flavors that bring about an awesome chili. If you find a modified version of this recipe that works well for you, please feel free to drop a line and share it with me (us). Enjoy!

Amanda's Vegetarian Chili

Depending upon the amount you wish to make, vary the ingredients by amount:
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can garbonzo beans
  • 1 can fire-roasted and/or garlic canned diced tomatoes 
  • 1 small can green chilis/diced jalapeños
  • 1 small can diced black olives 
  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 - 1 cup of corn (frozen or fresh works)
  • 1-2 chopped root veggies, like potatoes or parsnip or sweet potato (vary as you like)
  • 1-3 chopped carrots
  • 1 diced fresh hot pepper, like jalapeño or thai or habañero (depending upon spice liking)
  • Seasonings/Spices - oregano, thyme, basil, cumin, garlic salt, paprika, salt, pepper, hot sauces (again this is personal preference)

The recipe is very versatile and allows for a wide range of modifications - canned or rehydrated beans, varying vegetables, soy protein or similar, southwestern flavoring vs. cajun/creole flavorings. Mix it up as you like, especially adding seasonal veggies as they are available. You can also swap crushed/diced canned tomatoes for fresh ones or tomato paste + vegetable broth.

Start by washing the canned vegetables in a strainer. Place the beans in a large pot or soup pan with the other canned ingredients. Add the chopped veggies and spices/seasonings. Stir well. Cook over low to moderate heat for 2-4 hours (a large crockpot also works), continuing to stir ever 15 minutes or as needed. Add additional spices and flavorings as the chili slowly cooks for personal preference. Once the fresh vegetables have cooked and the consistency of the chili thickens, it's time to take it off the stove.

Serve hot with corn bread, cheese, sour cream, diced cilantro or other topping. Freeze whatever you like for up to a month or so. The spicier the better!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blueberry Banana Walnut Bread

It is the height of rafting season and we depart in a day for the Rogue River. The two knuckle heads in the photo to the right are some of my river family, Rafter Joe and DJ. They are hilarious to be around and always keep me on my toes, more than the river demands of me! The beige beauty (my raft) will again float down the beautiful waterways of Oregon with these two for comic relief and assortment of other fine characters. Expect a few foodie shots from camp soon.

As a happy rafter is a safe rafter, I take prepping for the river quite seriously. Baking and food included, of course. And drink too. You should see how prepared and organized rafters are. We are just shy of the insanity found with  scuba divers (speaking from years of experience here), gear and personalities included.

This week I whipped up a batch of Blueberry Banana Walnut Bread based on a Raspberry Banana Bread recipe I unearthed last year to share with folks at breakfast. Personally, I think homemade breakfast breads are where it is at. Especially if you are going to row till your hands blister for three days.

I made a few changes to the original recipe, using both white and whole wheat flours, 1/4 less sugar, both brown and white sugars, hazelnut milk in place of water, swapped oil for applesauce, added some spices, and a bit of almond extract. The loaf is a little more moist with the use of the applesauce, however I enjoy it that way for breakfast breads. The modified recipe follows. Enjoy and much love from the river!

Blueberry Banana Walnut Bread

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white sugar 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (farm fresh are great)
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup applesauce 
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/3 cup hazelnut milk (or other milk or water)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, white sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt. In another bowl, combine the eggs, bananas, brown sugar, applesauce, almond extract, and milk.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until moistened. Fold in blueberries and walnuts.

Pour into two (2) greased 8-in x 4-in x 2-in loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees at 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Eat lots!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I hadn't realized that I let a month go by without a post on here - bad chef! However, I did have a good reason. I promise!

I moved. Again.

Some friends complain that they can no longer maintain my address in their address books as I have filled it up. While they grossly exaggerate, I can understand their frustration. In an effort to stop annoying close pals (and other reasons), I finally found myself a nice little house complete with a monster sized yard to house the feathered ladies.

The ladies enjoying a run around their new digs, with Inara up front.

One of the things that has recently prevented be from baking, cooking, and making a messy kitchen is the new garden. With summer halfway over, we ramped up our efforts and started a garden at the new place. 

Small it  may seem, but ever hopeful with eggplant, lemon cucumber, peppers, and tomatoes. 

And to bring some good karma... prayer flags.

One of the most delightful discoveries at the new place are sunchokes - in abundance! Viewed here with 'wild' roses. I am already planning recipes based upon the giant patch in the backyard. 

Be on the lookout for more yummy treats and nosh in the very near future. Our house warming backyard shindig (complete with blankets, movie on projector, and mini panda cakes) is sure to please the crowds. Stay swell!