Rainbow Stew is Versatile and Delicious

I had a delicious dinner at a friend’s house recently, so of course I scammed the recipe from her. We had what she called Rainbow Stew. It’s actually her grandmother’s vegetable soup recipe and it’s very versatile. It also can be cooked on the stovetop or in a slow cooker.

Here’s the basic recipe:

Rainbow Stew

5 potatoes, chunked up

3 onions, chopped

1 can corn

1 can peas

1 can tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

1 spoon Crisco

1/2 can water for each can of vegetables

Combine all in slow cooker and cook all day on low or 4 to 6 hours on high.

Before serving, boil a small package of elbow macaroni separately according to package directions then drain and mix into stew. Allow stew to simmer with macaroni in it for a few minutes before serving.

So easy and simple, right? My friend said she often adds sliced fresh okra or celery when she has it on hand and it’s delicious with these additions.

She also often substitutes a can of diced tomatoes and green chilis for the plain tomatoes. This version is much spicier. The batch we ate, she substituted oregano and basil seasoned diced tomatoes instead of plain tomatoes. It was excellent.

She also noted that her grandmother sometimes adds tomato juice instead of water. This made me wonder whether it would be awesome to add chicken broth in place of the water. I think it would. I also think I would slice up some carrots and add them to the stew for even more color.

See what I mean about versatile? You can add (or delete) vegetables according to your family’s tastes, and even adjust the spices easily. And it’s a delicious meal that cooks itself in the slow cooker while you’re out living your life. Wonderful.

For more hearty, delicious dinner ideas, try Carver’s TomatoesCarver’s Tomatoes includes all of George Washington Carver’s 115 Tomato Recipes updated for today’s cooks. These were originally published in 1918 when Carver ran the Agriculture Department at the Tuskegee Institute under Booker T. Washington. His original pamphlet was a large part of his efforts to increase the popularity of tomatoes.

His recipes remain relevant through their use of common pantry and garden ingredients. Known for his personal frugality, most of these recipes are quite inexpensive to prepare and most are quite flexible, allowing the cook to create dishes to serve any number of people. The recipes are wide-ranging, from basic ketchups to soups and salads to dinner entrees.

Carver’s Tomatoes is available online for only $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony or Smashwords.

Light Fare for Summer Evenings, Part II

Fantastic salads are a great addition to the menu rotation during the summer heat. They are lighter than so many dishes, don’t tend to heat up the kitchen, and can often be made ahead so they are ready to serve whenever needed.

Here are 3 more great salads culled and adapted from the Brand Name Light & Natural Cookbook I picked up recently at a garage sale. Quick, light and easy – that’s my plan for August meals!

Primavera Pasta Salad

1  1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1  1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1  1/2 cups broccoli florets

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

3/4 cup julienned zucchini

1/2 cup julienned carrot

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup lemon juice

1  1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

3 3/4 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

6 ounces linquine or fettuccine noodles, cooked

Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli and garlic and stir fry 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add tomatoes, zucchini, carrot, honey, lemon juice, lemon peel and seasonings. Simmer and 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring gently. Toss with noodles. Cool. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serves 6.

Spicy Cucumber-Orange Salad

1 cucumber, sliced thin

1 large orange, peeled, sliced thin and cut into quarters

1/2 red onion, sliced thin and separated into rings

1 large Anaheim chile, seeded and chopped

1 cup white vinegar

1/3 cup salad oil

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped or 1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano

2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon ground dried sage

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a deep glass bowl toss together the cucumber slices, orange pieces, onion and chile.

In a covered container place the vinegar, oil and remaining ingredients; shake together until blended. Pour over salad mixture, stirring occasionally. Serve wiht a slotted spoon as a side-dish salad or relish. Marinade can be saved and used for salad dressing. Yields 3 cups salad, serves 3.

Chilled Dilled Carrot Salad

2 cups carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 cup diced shallots or red onions

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2-3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

Parboil carrots until tender yet crips, about 2 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain. Combine carrots and onions. Mix remaining ingredients in small bowl until well blended. Pour over carrot mixture and toss well. Refrigerate at least 3 hours to blend flavors. Serves 4.

For more great fast, delicious dinner recipes and ideas, try 25 Quick & Easy Quesadilla Recipes, available online for only 99 cents at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony or Smashwords.

It’s Tomato Planting Time

It’s time to plant tomatoes again, and I just planted mine. I’m cutting back on the garden this year because I don’t expect to have the time to tend a large one. I reduced the number of tomato plants and cut out all the other veggies entirely. Gotta grow some tomatoes though.

I plant them nice and deep – with about half of the stem underground. Pull the leaves off the portion that will be buried. The stem you bury with grow roots to help support the plant and it also encourages the tomato plant to grow stronger stalks and branches.

There are all kinds of recommendations for soil additives, but I’m lazy and have decided that mixing in a couple of scoops of Miracle Grow soil for fruits and vegetables is just as good as anything else.

When you plant the tomatoes, be sure to water them well to help prevent shock.

Tomatoes prefer several hours of sun each day, but I try to plant mine where they receive morning and mid-day sun, but not evening sun. The evening sun seems to be too much for them once the temperatures soar.

When watering tomato plants, remember they don’t like wet leaves. Water at the base of the plant without getting the leaves wet whenever possible. It’s also best to water in the morning so any moisture on the plant evaporates before night. Wet leaves at night tend to equal sickly tomato plants.

Growing tomatoes in the back yard or in a container on a balcony takes very little effort and the rewards are huge! Real, homegrown tomatoes are a completely different food than the hothouse tomatoes available at the grocery store. I love homegrown tomatoes but won’t even eat the grocery store kind. I pick them off salads and sandwiches. No thanks.

So I encourage anyone who is planning any sort of garden this year to include tomato plants. There are plenty of varieties to choose from. Smaller tomatoes like Romas or Cherry or Grape tomatoes are wonderful for salads. If the acid in tomatoes bothers you, maybe try growing a yellow tomato. They have great flavor and less acid. If you want to make sauces and will be blanching and peeling them, maybe go for a larger variety like Beefsteak. It’s also nice to mix in a few early producers like Early Girl.

Shopping at my local Wal-Mart this spring, I was stunned to see they are carrying some of the heirloom tomato varieties. So it’s no longer necessary to trek out to a major garden center to find a big selection. Just about any store that carries vegetable plants will have several varieties of tomatoes to choose from!

If you don’t garden, I encourage you to try buying tomatoes from local farmers if you haven’t before. The difference in taste and texture will have you going back for more!

Ann Chambers is the co-author and editor of Carver’s Tomatoes which includes updated versions of all 115 of George Washington Carver’s tomato recipes plus a biography of Carver. Carver’s Tomatoes is available online for only $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony or Smashwords.

 

Peanut Recipes from Oklahoma

Found an interesting old recipe book at an estate sale, “It’s Easy to be a ‘Gourmet’ with Peanuts.”

It doesn’t have a date on it, but looks to be from the 1950s. It says it is “brought to you by the 7,000 peanut growers of Oklahoma and their families.”

The cookbook is filled with recipes that use peanuts, from main dishes to soups, breads, cakes and more. Here are a couple of recipes from the Salads section.

Peanut-Carrot-Orange Salad

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrots

3/4 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts

1/3 cup raisins

Lemon juice, if desired

Mayonnaise, or any peanut butter salad dressing, as needed

2 oranges, cut in sections

Combine carrots, peanuts, and raisins with mayonnaise or peanut butter salad dressing to moisten. Add lemon juice to taste, if desired, Arrange on lettuce with orange sections around edge. Serves 4.

Never heard of peanut butter salad dressing? Here you go:

Quick Peanut Butter Dressing

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons peanut butter

Mix mayonnaise with lemon juice, sugar and peanut butter.

Or if you want to get fancy:

Peanut Butter Fruit Dressing

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup pineapple juice or pineapple-grapefruit blend

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons honey or sugar

Blend peanut butter with part of juices until smooth. Gradually add remaining juice, salt and honey, stirring until blended. Store in covered container in refrigerator. Makes 1 1/2 cups dressing. Excellent with fruit salad.

If you try and enjoy these recipes, say a word of thanks to the Oklahoma peanut growers!

Note: For those who enjoy historical recipes, check out “Carver’s Tomatoes” from Lakehouse publishing. It includes all 115 tomato recipes from George Washington Carver’s historic agriculatural bulletin – all updated for today’s cooks and kitchens. “Carver’s Tomatoes” is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Itunes, and Kobo for only $2.99.