Author Archives: culshafer

Freedom Requires Boundaries

Do birds know they are free to fly? Do turtles know they are free to swim? Do badgers know they are free to dig? And do the instincts that cause these animals to use these skills help them appreciate their freedoms? I don’t think so.

We on the other hand, speaking as Americans,  have the ability and the privilege and the responsibility to appreciate our freedoms. I especially see the importance of appreciation. How do we lift the haze that is made up of busy lives to see these hard-won rights? Freedom is defined and determined by boundaries. What boundaries have allowed you to see and appreciate your freedoms?

In simplicity, the solid white line on the right and the dotted white line on the left of a two-lane road are demarcated boundaries, defining not only the requirements of judicious driving but also allowing the drivers to travel with minimal feelings of impending peril. If all other drivers follow the rules of the road, each has the freedom to embark on a journey at efficient speed and to reach the intended destination.  These ubiquitous white lines never evoke a welling up of  great gratitude, but the freedom they afford serve as plain examples of the definition and determination of a boundary. For one moment today, appreciate a white line. Then consider what other boundary has defined and determined one of your freedoms.

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Roasted Vegetables on the Silpat

ImageRoasted Veggies – A Frequent Request at Our House

I know there are hundreds, probably THOUSANDS, of recipes out there for roasted veggies. That’s because it’s one of the yummiest ways to eat vegetables AND one of the easiest to make AND the most attractive AND … okay, so you understand how I feel!

Start out with the basics: crisp veggies, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then kick it up a notch by adding herbs and garlic. The combination of vegetables is, of course, endless; it makes sense to roast the most dense veggies first, then add the lighter ones, and finish by casting freshly minced garlic across them to roast for another couple of minutes. The picture above contains winter and in-season veggies. The picture below shows root veggies with squash.

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Roasted Root Vegetables with Winter Squash

I’ll share the recipe for the top picture. But really, you can choose any vegetable that you would normally cook any other way, from potatoes to spinach. I tend to avoid the juicy vegetables like tomatoes because I like the crunch you get from roasting the drier ones.

Roasted Vegetables on the Silpat

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place a large Silpat on a large Perforated Sheet
  • Cut 1 inch chunks of a combination of these vegetables to equal 4 cups and place in a bowl: carrots, red potatoes, onions, red cabbage
  • Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, add ¼ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of pepper, ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, and ½ teaspoon dried thyme, and stir to coat with the oil. (If you have fresh herbs, double the amount.)
  • Spread these on the Silpat and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut 1 inch chunks of a combination of these vegetables to equal 3 cups and place in another bowl: cauliflower, asparagus, and sweet mini peppers. Again, drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, and ½ teaspoon dried thyme. Stir to coat with the oil.
  • When the timer goes off, spread these veggies over the first ones and continue baking at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mince 2 cloves of garlic.
  • When the timer goes off, sprinkle the garlic evenly over the vegetables. Bake for another 3 minutes. Serve with a smile!

 

Oregon’s Summer and Winter

Last weekend, we found out again that western Oregon can treat us to a fourth season that the rest of the northern continent calls WINTER. Normally through January and February, we have rain, and rain, and some more rain. Instead, in just a few weeks we went from planting trees and playing on the beach to 11 inches of action-stopping, traffic-snarling, play-inducing SNOW! 

Snowy hill

sunset ocean boy

Lately, this picture has been repinned frequently on Pinterest so… AT LAST…

Stuffed Green Peppers in the Microwave

Whenever I see peppers go on sale at the grocery store, I take a mental GANDER of my fridge. Do I have leftover rice? Yes? Then TONIGHT we’re having stuffed peppers. I really like how BRIGHT the peppers remain when they’re nuked in a Demarle at Home mold. They don’t get soft and squishy which was a plus with our kids—they liked the CRUNCH of the peppers. I added the extra tomato sauce because we would fight over the tomato juice. If you want your peppers SWIMMING in yummy soupiness, then be my guest and throw in another can of tomato soup.

Here's another way I enticed our children to eat vegetables!

Stuffed Green Peppers in the Microwave
Adapted from GE’s Microwave Guide and Cookbook

  • 6-7 medium green or other color bell peppers
  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef, pork, turkey, or venison
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 small onion, chopped, about ¾ cup
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 can (10 oz.) condensed tomato soup
  • 1 small can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • 6-7 cheese slices (optional)

Cut off tops of peppers; remove seeds. Arrange them snugly in a Round Mold placed on a medium Perforated Sheet.
Mix ground meat with rice, onion, garlic, and seasonings. Fill peppers evenly.
Mix tomato soup, sauce, and water; pour over and around the peppers. Cover with an octagonal Silpat.
Microwave on high for 14 minutes. Check for doneness: a meat thermometer should read 160° or meat should no longer be pink.
If you want, lay a slice of cheese over each pepper; return to microwave and cook an additional minute to soften cheese.

Taco Casserole in the Microwave

I must start this category with the recipe that’s been Pinned more than any of my other Demarle photos.

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook that came with our original GE microwave, before our first child was born when we lived in the Chicago area. That means we bought it 32 years ago. A microwave seemed like an extravagance at the time – really! I mean, we had always cooked on the range or in the oven. We’d always reheated food by putting it into a small pan… or drank our coffee cold (or, even better, drank it hot in small quantities, at the table, not walking around and putting it down and forgetting about it in another room)… or used the toaster oven on the counter top. And now that I was going to stay home with a baby, no longer working outside our home, I would have NO need for a time-saving device like a microwave. But we bought one anyway. And never looked back.

A note about the finished product: if you wish to flip the casserole onto a serving dish, the top (that used to be the bottom) will look anemic. Have some grated cheese ready to hide the pallid color, PLEASE! It will look so much more appetizing and besides, a little more cheese is always a good thing.

Taco Casserole in the Microwave

1 pound ground turkey or beef

½ cup chopped onion

1 4-oz. can chopped green chilies, drained slightly

1 pkg. taco seasoning mix

Tortilla chips

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1 can black beans or whole corn, drained

2 eggs

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 cup evaporated milk OR half and half

In a 2 1/2 to 3 quart mold laid on a plate (not plastic or melamine), microwave the ground meat and onion for 4 minutes. Drain by putting the edges of the mold together and making a spout with one end. Stir in green chilies and taco seasoning mix. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl mix the eggs, tomato sauce and milk. In the mold, lay 3 layers of tortilla chips, crushing slightly, then add half of the meat, cheese and corn. Repeat a second layering with these four ingredients. Pour egg mixture evenly over. Microwave for 10 – 14 minutes or until set, rotating twice if you don’t have a carousel. Sprinkle with some additional cheese if desired. Allow to rest five minutes to set completely, especially if you plan to flip it over onto a serving plate.