Busy Few Days in the Kitchen…

Aside from the usual Friday night dinner recipe (which I made on Saturday this week), I made two additional recipes that I didn’t really plan on making. Luckily, I was able to make them all Ina recipes, so they all count towards the blog! Stay tuned this week as I review and post about each one!

Of course, I’ll have an herbal related post, even though they are less popular than some others. And I’ll be posting my February wrap-up post as well!

So many surprise recipes! Needed more than I originally thought. Check out the blog next week to read about everything I ended up making over the next few days.

  • Cavatappi pasta
  • Half gallon whole milk
  • Unsalted butter (if on sale)
  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar
  • Buttermilk
  • Eggs
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • Nabisco vanilla wafers OR Ginger Snaps
  • 5-6 large bananas

Cooking Plans Weekend of 2/26/21

The weekend is almost upon us. That means I get to start planning what recipes I’ll be making. With the warmer weather on the way, I decided that I should take advantage of it still being February and make some comfort food.

Luckily for me, Ina has made this easy. Her latest cookbook is all about comfort food. But, I also want something easy so I’m not spending so much time in the kitchen or breaking the bank. I’ll still be making an Ina recipe, it just will be something a little simpler.

I’ve decided to make mac & cheese because nothing screams comfort food like mac & cheese, right?

Ina has a few recipes for this, one of which does appear in her latest cookbook, Modern Comfort Food. But, I’ll be making the one out of Family Style. I’m so excited, I can almost smell the cheese sauce simmering away!

Barefoot Contessa Recipe #33: French String Beans

This recipe can be found in Barefoot in Paris, page 160.

The side dish I made to go along with the Panko-Crusted Salmon last Friday was something that took no time at all in the kitchen! Ina’s French-inspired French String Beans turn up the flavor on otherwise pretty bland veggies.

Sadly since it is February, I did not get the chance to truly enjoy the full potential of this recipe. I had to use frozen regular “American” string beans instead of the thinner, slightly longer French ones. But, I still think it turned out well enough for me to get a sense of what Ina was going for with it.

In the recipe, you pair the string beans with a mixture of peppers and a red onion. You roast the onion and peppers in the oven for about 15 minutes. I did this, but upon eating the meal I think they need another few minutes in the oven. The peppers were okay, but the onion could have used a little more “roasted” texture. To be honest, I’m not really sure what I’m trying to describe here. It seemed like another two to three minutes in the oven would have made things a bit better.

Despite this, the recipe produced a flavorful side dish that was pretty easy to make. That’s a win for me!

What Herbalism Program Am I Taking?

Please note that I am not receiving a commission for this post. Nor have I been asked to promote any of the programs listed here. The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone based on my personal thoughts and goals in the field of herbalism.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, my journey with herbal medicine is a long and varied one. Over the years I have done research into various herbal schools and their programs. I have enrolled and completed a few but this blog will mainly focus on programs that I am currently enrolled.

As of this writing, I am enrolled in two different programs at two different herbal schools. The first one, through The Herbal Academy, I began last spring when they offered a discount on some of their courses. So I enrolled in the Introductory Herbal Course and the Intermediate Herbal Course. Right now, I am about halfway through the Introductory Herbal Course.

Continue reading “What Herbalism Program Am I Taking?”

Barefoot Contessa Recipe #32 – Panko Crusted Salmon

This recipe is from How Easy is That?, page 152

For Friday night dinner, I made my first fish recipe in the Ina cook-through saga. My family usually eats fish about once a week, typically salmon. So, a salmon recipe seemed like the logical choice. We already had the fish and almost all the ingredients to make the panko crust. I think I only had to buy a lemon for the zest.

This recipe is pretty straight forward. But, to be honest, it’s nothing special. The dijon mustard does give the salmon an extra flavor and it plays nicely with the panko crust. The panko prevents the salmon from drying out which, obviously, make it more flavorful. If you’re looking to dress up your run-of-the-mill salmon filet, then definitely try this one. One of the perks is all the ingredients are pretty standard, so it won’t break the bank either. That was a nice reprieve from some other Ina recipes.

To my dish, I decided to throw in some of the pine nuts I used for the gremolata I made a few weeks ago. Those little nuts are expensive and I don’t want them to go to waste!

In addition to this recipe, I made a side dish. That recipe review will be posted later in the week.

See ya then!

My Strange, Varied Path to Herbalism

You might want to make a cup of tea. This is a long post!

I first discovered that herbs could be used as medicine when I was in college. I was an undergraduate history major studying Medieval Europe. One day, while roaming the seemingly never-ending stacks of my university’s library, I came across a book on the pagan religion Wicca. After thumbing through it, it sparked an interest in me and I checked it out of the library. While I was reading that book, I learned that herbs were used in Wiccan rituals for magical purposes. The book also taught me that herbs could be used as medicine. While I can’t remember the title, had some simple herbal tea recipes and recipes on making salves and lip balms.

Eventually, my interest in using medicinal herbs led to its own research. One day, I stumbled upon Mountain Rose Herbs. MRH is a company from the West Coast that sells bulk herbs, prepared herbal products, herbal medicine supplies, and more. At the time, their site had a page dedicated to herbal education programs.

First, I looked for programs that were located in my home state. But sadly, there weren’t any. The closest one was in Vermont and it only offered on-site learning. At the time, I couldn’t do that. So I just started looking for schools and teachers that offered distance learning. Yes, this was being done long before the pandemic! It was at this time that I learned that the United States offers no formal certificate or licensure for herbalists. But that was okay with me (it still is!), I only had a passing interest in herbalism. I wasn’t about to go and change my career or anything.

Luckily, the summer months were coming. Which meant that I would be working all summer long. So, I found a school that offered a decently-sized program for the money and I decided that if the interest still remained come the fall semester, I would register for a course.

So I worked a lot and saved some money. When it came time to go back to school that September, I gave myself a couple weeks to settle into the semester and then I did it! I enrolled in my first herbal studies program. Sadly, the school or program no longer exists, even though I wish I could recommend it. A few years ago, the people running the school decided to take a different direction. They closed the herbalism school and opened a different type of natural health program. Much more collegiate, a lot more money.

But for me, at that time, the program I was doing was stellar! I learned a lot and completed the course fully. But, I wanted more!

Photo taken from Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, http://www.chestnutherbs.com

The company that I’d just finished studying under offered a more advanced level course. I decided to take it as well. And it was during this course that things started to change a little bit. My college courses became more difficult and time-consuming. I made more friends and went off-campus more frequently. Spending less time in my dorm room meant I had less time to study herbs. One of the issues with all of these distance learning programs is they are “at your own pace.” This, does have its benefits. But, for a young college student, things can easily be overlooked and before you know it, your course completion time is nearing and you still haven’t done 80% of the program!

So sadly, the more advanced level course was lost..though I still kept the course texts until recently. After that my interest in herbs kind of ebbed and flowed. I didn’t enroll in any programs but I still looked at videos on YouTube every once in a while. I kept getting emails to some of the schools I looked into in the early days of my interest, so I considered myself to “staying up to date” on things.

After a few years, I chose to enroll in a very long, in-depth, and expensive program. It was a very reputable program and was certified by the AHG, the American Herbalist Guild. In fact, this program was being run by one of the founding members of the AHG. I liked this course because it covered a lot and it seemed like would provide me with a great education. And it did. One of the other benefits was that I was able to pay in installments. Sadly, I never completed it past the first 12 lessons. In fact, I stopped after lesson four. Life got in the way. And even though I also kept most of those materials, I decided to move on from it. Maybe I’ll do it at another time.

Fast forward three years and we enter the spring of 2020. One of the schools I had looked into a few years prior and took a quick course from them was offering a great deal due to the pandemic. So, I took them up on the offer. The Herbal Academy (HA) out of Massachusetts, was offering their Introductory Herbal Course and their Intermediate Herbal Course for a fraction of the cost and at a payment plan. So last spring and into the summer I paid it off. I am now about halfway through the first course and still have time before I “need” to begin the Intermediate one.

I am really enjoying the HA courses. The program is filled with text, videos, handouts, projects and more! I do intend to complete both the Introductory Herbal Course and the Intermediate Herbal Course. But, most recently I decided to enroll in another course. And to be honest, it’s what I am calling my “dream program.”

I’ll have more on that in another post soon. Stay tuned!

Wow! That was a long one. If you’ve read this far, thanks for sticking with it. I hope you learned a little bit more about me.

Until next time, readers…

Photo by rovenimages.com on Pexels.com

Starting Something New

While this blog has started out as a food blog that focused on Ina Garten recipes, it’s constantly evolving. Over the last few months I’ve taken steps to widen the content of this site in order to align better with things that I want to write about.

After all, this is my little corner of the Internet, so I can do that 🙂

I’ve come to really enjoy the blogging experience. I know I do not have many readers, but I appreciate the ones that I do! It makes me so happy when one of you “likes” my posts or just takes a moment to poke around my little site.

Continue reading “Starting Something New”