Loving Henry

It was really hard to be Henry’s mother.  From the moment he was born, he cried.  He cried because he was hungry and my milk hadn’t come in yet.  He cried because it had been twenty minutes since his last nursing and he was hungry again.  He cried because I wasn’t holding him.  And, increasingly, he cried even when I was.  For a while, when he was very young, he slept through the night, and I actually had to wake him to nurse, but as the months slipped by, he was waking more and more frequently.  Every three hours.  Every two hours.  Every 90 minutes.  Every hour.  When I hit the end of my rope, he was waking every 45 minutes, all night long.

It is hard to love when you are exhausted.  It is hard to love when nothing you do can make this baby happy.  It’s hard to love when the size of your world has shrunk to the circle of your arms.  It is hard to love when there is never any relief.  I tended to his needs as well as I could without knowing why he cried, and I prayed that genuine affection would grow out of that faithfulness.  It hurts to admit that.

henry-eats-his-toastIt’s been two weeks now since Henry and I began our tomatoes-and-peppers fast, and he is an entirely different child.  He’s happy, and he’s a joy to be around.  He’s clever and affectionate and busy, just like a baby is supposed to be.  He naps a couple of times a day for a couple of hours at a stretch.  He still wakes too often at night, but not as often, and I think genuine discomfort has been replaced by just bad habits.

He is seven months old, and I am only just now falling for this little guy.  I wish it hadn’t taken so long, and I will forever feel some guilt for not feeling that affection, and that he suffered for so long when I could have spared him, but right now, I’m just loving Henry.

 

Chicken Fajita Soup

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil 1 can diced tomatoes
1 red bell pepper; chopped 1 can black beans (or 2 cups cooked beans)
1 green bell pepper; chopped 2 cups chicken broth
1 jalapeno pepper diced 2 tbsp fajita seasoning
1 large onion; chopped Salt and pepper; to taste
3 cups cooked chicken (see Chicken Broth)

Preparation

In an 8 qt. stock pot, heat oil. Add peppers and onion and cook 5-10 minutes, till tender. Add chicken, tomatoes, beans, broth and fajita seasoning. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes to combine flavors.

Serve with corn bread or tortilla chips.

Blue Ribbon Chili

Ingredients

2 lbs ground beef 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 large onion; chopped 1 cup salsa
1 tsp black pepper 4 tbsp chili seasoning mix
1/2 tsp garlic powder 4-6 cups cooked or canned beans

Preparation

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the ground beef and the onion and saute for 10 minutes, or until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain grease, if desired. Add the ground black pepper, garlic salt, tomato sauce, salsa, chili seasoning mix and kidney beans. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour.

Serve topped with cheese and sour cream!

Bacon and Tomato Dip

This is one of our Kentucky Proud recipes!  I sampled it at the extension office one day, and it was so good.  🙂

Ingredients

1 cup sour cream 4 slices bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
1 cup mayonnaise 1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large tomatoes diced and drained

Preparation

Combine all ingredients. Add reserved tomato juice until dip reaches desired consistency. Serve with fresh vegetables, crackers, or kettle chips.

Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches

I don’t have a recipe per say, but this is how I make them. I haven’t gotten any complaints. 🙂

First, I thinly slice a quantity of peppers and onions appropriate to the number of sandwiches I’m making. I mostly use only green peppers, because red peppers are often obscenely expensive, but today, I have a red pepper, too. They add a nice bit of color and a slightly different flavor, but if green is all you have, green is fine. I saute them in a lot of butter. Not margarine, not olive oil, butter. Nothing beats the flavor! I start with half a stick and add more as needed until the peppers and onions are quite tender but not brown. (Keep the heat to medium!) Now I add a can of diced tomatoes and heat it through. No other seasoning is necessary.

Next, I like to grill mild Italian sausages, weather permitting, brushing them with barbeque sauce toward the end of the cooking time. Otherwise, I bake them in the oven till they’re done, also brushing with sauce toward the end. If you are baking them, be sure to drain off any grease before adding the sauce, otherwise, it won’t stick.

I prefer nice crusty white rolls for these sandwiches, split and warmed in the oven just before serving. David likes to pull out some of the bread to form a nest for his sausage, but I like to just squeeze it around the fillings. Split the rolls most of the way through, leaving a “hinge” at the bottom, put a hot sausage into it, and top with the peppers and onions. Some people like to add a little more barbeque sauce, especially kids, but I think it overwhelms the buttery onion flavors.

I don’t make this too often because it’s a fairly expensive meal, but it’s very tasty and I always hope there will be leftovers for lunch tomorrow. It reheats very well.

Kusherie (Egyptian Rice and Lentils)

I found this recipe for Egyptian Rice and Lentils in my More-With-Less Cookbook. Honestly, I didn’t have much hope for it. Even though it looked unusually good for a bean dish, my kids are notoriously bad eaters of all things bean and terribly suspicious of anything they haven’t seen before. On top of that, my husband, like most husbands, I suspect, is a meat and potatoes man. Still, every now and then, I foist one of these dishes upon them and hope for the best. How surprised was I that they actually liked it! All of the kids finished a modest helping and half of them took seconds. David didn’t eat much in honor of a weigh-in this morning, but declared he could eat half the platter and did take the leftovers to work this morning for lunch today. I thought it was wonderful, too, and enjoyed a second helping. The recipe made plenty for all of us, though, when reading it, I thought it might want a flat bread to go along with it, and after eating it, I think that would be a lovely addition. If you have time, make a batch of homemade tortillas, too.

Kusherie (Egyptian Rice and Lentils)

For the lentils:
2 Tbsp oil
1 1/4 cup dried lentils
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
pepper
1 1/2 cups rice
1 cup water

Heat the oil in a heavy, lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the lentils and brown for five minutes, stirring often. This gives them a delicious, nutty flavor. Add the 3 cups water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for ten minutes, then stir in the rice and remaining water. Return to the boil, cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and let it cook undisturbed for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the sauce:
3/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups tomato juice, sauce or puree
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in another saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

For the onions:
2 Tbsp oil
3 onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Add the onions and garlic and saute until browned.

Also needed:
Plain yogurt

To serve:

Spread the lentil mixture out on a large platter. Pour the sauce over and spread to the edges of the lentils. Top with the onions and serve with plain yogurt.

My favorite store-bought yogurt is Stonyfield Farms Organic Whole Milk yogurt. It doesn’t have that nasty tang that makes yogurt-eating such a chore (unless you like that tang) and it’s the only yogurt I’ve found that isn’t low-fat. Low-fat products generally have odd things added to them to give them the more attractive consistency that their full-fat counterparts have, and that’s just…gross. I’d rather have the fat. At least I know where that came from!

(Originally posted in 2009.)

Italian Chicken Squash Stuffing: A Recipe

This was just about the best squash stuffing I’ve ever made or eaten.  I had to make it up, because I couldn’t find the recipe I wanted.  🙂

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, diced
12 oz bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
approx. half a loaf of bread, cut into 1/4″ cubes
slices of mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

In a skillet, cook together the onion, bacon and garlic, until onion is soft and translucent and bacon is browning. Stir frequently! Remove from the skillet, leaving the drippings. Add the mushrooms and cook them until they are deeply golden. They’ll shrink a lot, but don’t substitute canned, please. Add these to the bacon and onions. Now pour in the two cans of tomatoes, undrained, and stir in the chicken and the Italian seasoning. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and let this simmer for about ten minutes to release the flavors. Add this to the bacon mixture, which you hopefully thought to put into a largish bowl. Add bread cubes to absorb the extra tomato liquid. We used almost half a loaf, but not quite. Fill the squash cavities and bake as recommended by someone other than me, because my squashes were underdone. About ten minutes before they’re finished, top with slices of mozzarella cheese to melt.

Notes:

This made enough to fill five or six squashes, so adjust accordingly. The bacon makes this dish man-friendly; my man, at least, will happily eat the lightest fare, as long as there is bacon.

And mozzarella. Oh, my goodness. We have been producing lately the bestest, most delicious mozzarella I have ever tasted. I just can’t get enough of it! If you are one of our shareholders, you can get some, too, but if you’re not, your results are going to be inferior. There’s no help for it, though, so, chin up!