Holm Family Cookbook

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Cowgirl's Foodie Blog

I'm Hooked on Pinterest

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on July 27, 2012 at 9:30 PM

I'm Hooked!

I used to subscribe to a lot of magazines. They would often pile up and to reduce the piles I would take a stack of them with me on a business trip to read on the plane, I'd take the months-old magazines to read on vacation, or I'd spend a weekend flipping through them. Sometimes I would see an interesting story or article, a recipe, or a picture that I wanted to save, so I would rip the page out of the magazine and file it away. I have a few binders and a few drawers full of the pages I ripped out, but I never look at them. I don't even remember what the recipes, pictures, or stories are about, but I keep thinking someday I'll need them for something (did the word "hoarder" just come to mind?!?).  If I had bulletin boards all over the walls of my house, I could have categorized the bulletin boards and tacked the pages to the appropriately categorized bulletin boards and look at the pages whenever I wanted. Ahh, but that would be unsightly.


This is what my coffee table used to look like . . . .

For a couple of years I'd been seeing Pinterest posts showing up on Facebook and heard people talking about Pinterest. Several months ago I quickly scanned the Pinterest site, but did catch on to what the hype was all about. Just recently, however, I finally took the time to really take a look at Pinterest to comprehend how useful it really is and now I'm hooked. With Pinterest I don't need to spend money on magazines or spend hours flipping through them to find something of interest. I don't need to tear out the pages and file them away--I now have bulletin boards out in cyberspace and I have access to millions of photos, recipes, stories, and ideas to pin onto my boards!


After I was granted my Pinterest account I created cyber bulletin boards categorized according to my interests that I could assign a name and category to (nudity and porn are not permitted, so don't get any funny ideas). On each of my categorized bulletin boards I have a collection of photos. If I need a recipe for a potluck, an idea for a gift, or I wonder what I can do with an old rake or a canning jar, I go to my Pinterest boards. When I see an article, picture, or recipe on-line that I want to save, I can "pin" it to the appropriate bulletin board. If I don't already have a board set up for a pin, I can create a new board on the fly to pin it to.  Once pinned, I can later click on the pin to go back to website where I found the pin to see the full article, recipe, story about the photo, etc.


Samples of some of my Pinterest Boards

I have made some excellent dishes from recipes I found on Pinterest. A few weeks ago my sister Nancy was on vacation and had me pick up her CSA box, which among a lot of other fruits and veggies included a head of cabbage and a lemon. I had no brilliant ideas as to what to do with the cabbage, so I quickly found a recipe on Pinterest and my family and I enjoyed a delicious cooked cabbage about an hour later. I've included the recipe at the end of this post.

Brides to be and people planning parties frequently use Pinterest to compile ideas for their events. There's a plethora of great ideas at their fingertips. I could also see it used by someone planning on remodeling or redecorating their home and by someone trying to update their wardrobe. I often see pins with great looking outfits, including shoes and accessories. 

If pinning on Pinterest sounds like something you might be interested in, here are some ways to build up your boards:

- Add the "Pin It" button to your browser so you can pin images from any website. You will find this under "Add" on the Pinterest site.

- Follow your friends or other people's boards and repin their pins.  To follow my boards, go to this website and click "Follow": http://pinterest.com/merrycarter1/

- There is a public place where you can see what other people are pinning and pin from there to your bulletin boards. On your Pinterest site, click on "Everything" to see what people are pinning or "Categories" to narrow down the types of pins you would like to see.

- When you pin from the public places (e.g., "Everything") you can see and follow the boards that belong to the people who's pins you have pinned.

- You can also search for specific pins by using the search function and pinning pins found onto your boards.

- You can upload your own photos onto your bulletin boards by clicking on "Add" and then "Upload a Pin."

If you don't have a Pinterest account now, you will need to request an invite. You can ask a friend already on Pinterest to invite you or you can request an invite from the Pinterest site. It can take a few days to receive an email letting you know that you have an account.  Pinterest requires invites to keep the site running quickly and smoothly. The by-invitation-only method allows Pinterest to control the volume of new users, so that their servers are not overwhelmed by spikes in traffic.

I think the by-invitation-only method also helps cut down on spammers and the spread of malware. You should, however, still be careful. On a few occasions when I thought I was going to a website to see a recipe or a story, I was redirected to another site that had nothing to do with the pin I clicked on. If this should happen to you, do not click anything on that site. Close that tab and don't go back to that site.

As I mentioned earlier, here is the cabbage recipe that my family and I enjoyed.

Grilled / Baked Cabbage


1 head of cabbage, cleaned and cut into quarters

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 tablespoons real bacon bits

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


Preheat oven or grill to 425 degrees F. Place each cabbage quarter on a piece of foil large enough to wrap it in. In a small bowl, mix all other ingredients together to make a marinade.  Spoon about two tablespoons of the marinade over each cabbage quarter. Make sure you get the marinade into the nooks and crannies.  Wrap each cabbage quarter with the foil taking care to keep the marinade on the cabbage and in the foil wrap. Bake or grill for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cabbage has softened to the way you like it. The original website for this recipe has step-by-step photos in case you need them:  http://greenlitebites.com/2010/06/28/roasted-grilled-cabbage/

Happy pinning!



Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 30, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Over the last year, I’ve been swapping cookbooks with our cousin-in-law’s Grandma Patsy from West Texas, giving me the chance to try some Southern cooking. Over the summer we tested out okra two ways for the very first time from the Ropesville Cookbook that Patsy helped to publish. The next cookbook I received was Shirley B’s Country Cookin’ from a retired restaurateur in Anton Texas, full of down home family recipes like hush puppies, lemon pound cake, boiled shrimp, fried catfish, chicken and dumplings and more.

When two of the gals at work mentioned that they had a load of green tomatoes still on the vine, it was time for me to try the Fried Tomatoes recipe from Shirley B’s cookbook! I brought my big electric skillet to work along with the four ingredients needed, got set up on the loading dock and started to fry. By the time I was done, you could smell those fried tomatoes throughout the entire theater! I had never even tasted fried green tomatoes before, or cooked them, and they turned out delicious, tangy and tart. The staff and crew gobbled them up. After frying a few different color variations of the tomatoes, I could see why Shirley liked cooking with tomatoes that were starting to turn pink, they had a completely different, flavor, sweeter than the green.

I just received another cookbook from Patsy, Range Riders Cookin’, so I’m sorting through the recipes now, Cowboy Clyde’s Cabbage Salad, Lone Prairie Sheperd’s Pie, Virginia City Beef Brisket, Wild Bill’s Whiskey Biscuits or Jim Bob's Peanut Brittle. Time to pull out the Dutch oven and get to work!


“Most people use green tomatoes but I prefer the tomatoes that are turning pink.”

-Shirley B


Wash and slice 3-4 medium tomatoes (thick slices)

In a small bowl add 1 cup flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper.

Add enough water to make a thick batter. (Should look like pancake batter.) Dip tomato slices in batter coating both sides and lay in a skillet of hot oil. Brown both sides and drain on a paper towel.



Cajun Pasta and The Pioneer Woman

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 13, 2012 at 9:50 AM

The other day we received an email from our cousin Lori who lives in Texas. Lori is a girl that was born and raised in California, and her job took her and her daughters to Texas. Her daughters met and married Texas boys (we all love their accents and their southern manners), and they had their own boys. Lori has lived in Texas for several years now, has five grandsons, and just loves Texas and being a grandmother (we are really not old enough to be grandmothers, are we?!?). So here's what she said in her email:

"It was Clint’s birthday dinner and he wanted Cajun Pasta.  I had to make some plain stuff for Jamie as I didn’t think Colby would like all the spices.  Clint took the picture so I could send it to you guys.  The Cajun pasta was from a recipe I got from Pioneer Women on the internet.  It sure smelled good when cooking.  Next time I need to cook it in the cast iron skillet.  I couldn’t get my non-stick pan hot enough to blacken the way I think it should of.  Everyone liked it so I probably will try it again." 

Here's the link to the recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/09/cajun-chicken-pasta/

The Cajun Pasta that Lori made, the plain pasta is on the right

If you are not familiar with The Pioneer Woman, let me give you a quick rundown. Ree Drummond is a blogger that started out with stories about how she, a city girl, met  "Marlboro man" at a bar and they later fell in love, got married, had children, they live on a large ranch in Oklahoma, she cooks and takes lovely photos. She incorporated some of her stories, recipes, and photos into a beautiful cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, which became a New York Times Best Seller. She later published, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels--A Love Story, that chronicles her early relationship with "Marlboro man."  She most recently wrote a children's book, Charlie the Ranch Dog. To get to her website: http://thepioneerwoman.com/

The Pioneer Woman has now has a cooking show on the FoodNetwork and a new episode airs tomorrow morning at 10:00 am/9:00 am central time.   

For more info about her show: http://www.foodnetwork.com/the-pioneer-woman/index.html

The cooking cowgirls meet the Pioneer Woman

The Cowgirls Meet the Pioneer Woman & Read Her New Love Story

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 14, 2011 at 9:52 AM

Happy Valentines Day!

Last week my cousin Wendy sent me an email asking if I would like to go see Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman blogger and cookbook author, as she would be in San Francisco for a book signing. My sister Nancy wanted to go too, so Wendy and I made arrangements to meet Nancy at the bookstore where the book signing would be held. We assumed with the San Francisco Area being so urban that very few people would know who the Pioneer Woman was and we could sail right into the bookstore and meet Ree. Boy, were we wrong!

The bookstore was absolutely packed. After a question and answer period with Ree, everyone lined up in groups to meet Ree by the letter listed on their ticket. The line was out the door and this was a fairly large bookstore. The people with letters towards the middle and end of the alphabet sat around and waited until their letter got closer.

We had "E tickets" and were at the head of the E group. A young lady behind us told us that this crowd was nothing. While living on the East Coast, she drove 14 hours to see Ree in South Carolina. When she got to the book store in South Carolina there were over 3,000 people waiting for Ree to sign their books and she did not get her book signed until after 1:00 am.

Back in San Francisco, a very pregnant woman made her way up to just to get a look at Ree. She was sporting an "L ticket" and didn't think that she would be able to hold out until the L's got up to see Ree, so we had her join us in line. A couple of days after the book signing, we received a nice thank you note from her.

We, fortunately did not have to wait until 1:00 am. It was after 9:00 pm when we finally made it up to Ree, who kindly speaks with each person that has come to see her and is very accommodating for group photos. 

Wendy Howe, Merry Carter, the Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, and Nancy Mueller.

We were starving by the time we got out of the book signing and while we would have loved to have had a nice dinner at one of the great restaurants in the area, it was so late that we had to settle for the McDonald's across the street. We got in line at McDonald's with the homeless people.

All three of us bought Ree's new book, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels--A Love Story and found it to be very easy reading and one of those can't put it down books. At the end of the book are several of the recipes that Ree mentions in her story. The recipes look great and I can't wait to try the cinnamon rolls--from the recipe and description they sound fantastic.

Ree Drummond's new book, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels--A Love Story


Without love, the rich and poor live in the same house.  ~Author Unknown

The Slow-Cookerer: Make it Fast, Cook it Slow

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on November 16, 2010 at 3:24 AM

On Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a presentation and book-signing event for author, blogger, and self proclaimed slow-cookerer Stephanie O'Dea. In 2008 Stephanie made a new years resolution to use a slow cooker (aka Crockpot) to prepare meals for 365 days. And, believe it or not, she kept her resolution. It wasn't using the slow cooker to prepare meals that is so shocking to me--it's that someone actually made and kept a new years resolution! Mine are usually forgotten by about the fourth day.

So, not only did Stephanie use a slow cooker everyday for 365 days, but she also blogged about the meals that she cooked each day on her website, A Year of Slowcooking. One day Stephanie successfully made a crème Brule in the slow cooker, sent an email to the Rachel Ray show about it, and ended up on the Rachel Ray show.

Stephanie O'Dea, Author of Make it Fast, Cook it Slow

The recipes that Stephanie used were from cookbooks, recipes that her blog readers shared with her, and recipes that she created herself. Having a child with celiac disease, all of the recipes that Stephanie made were modified so they were gluten free. Eventually she compiled the recipes into a manuscript and published a cookbook entitled, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking. Many of the recipes include "The Verdict" which is a review of the recipe. Her cookbook was a smashing success and spent six weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. She has written another book, More Make it fast, Cook it Slow, that will be available in January 2011. Stephanie's Blog is also a smashing success and she gets about 15,000 hits a day, which is approximately 14,970 more hits than we get on our blog every day! 

The cover of Make It Fast, Cook It Slow

At the presentation and book-signing event Stephanie told us that she prepares her Thanksgiving dinner in slow cookers--including the turkey. Once she gets the food prepared and in the slow cookers, she has the rest of the day to visit with her guests. How great is that? I don't usually cook Thankgiving dinner, but almost always spend most of Christmas Day in the kitchen preparing dinner. I'm going to be checking out Stephanie's cookbook and website for the perfect Christmas dinner recipes for this year's dinner.

At the event Stephanie served samples of pumpkin pudding that she had made in a slow cooker. It was delicious and tastes just like pumpkin pie sans the crust and all of the extra fat and white flour that comes with it. You can find the recipe for it at this site on her blog: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/11/crockpot-pumpkin-pudding-crustless.html


Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.

~Erma Bombeck

Five Onions for Fall

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on September 23, 2010 at 9:46 AM

First full day of Fall and I’m lookin’ for soup recipes, especially because it has, once again, been unseasonably cold ‘round these parts (40-something outside this morning). I remember going back to school in September and it being 105 degrees, this year is freezing, soup is a must.


I found a Morton’s (The Steakhouse) onion soup recipe on the Chicago Food Blog that boasts 5 different onions in the recipe, wow! Spanish and red onions, leeks, shallots and garlic, as an onion lover, how could I pass that one up, and knowing Morton’s reputation, I knew it must be good. It hales from the restaurant’s second cookbook, “Morton’s The Cookbook.” It takes a little work, but well worth it!



Morton’s Five-Onion Soup Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/4 pounds Spanish onions (about 2 large), thinly sliced

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

1 small leek, halved, thinly sliced, and well rinsed

3 to 4 shallots, thinly sliced

1/2 cup minced garlic (about 20 cloves)

5 tablespoons dry sherry

1/4 cup Madeira wine

1 1/2 teaspoons beef base

1 1/2 teaspoons chicken base

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

3/4 teaspoon herbs de Provence

1 small bay leaf

1 3/4 quarts (7 cups) reconstituted store-bought demi-glace, or beef broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Croutons (See recipe below)

1 1/4 pounds Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese, grates or shredded

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving


In a deep stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add both types of onions, the leeks, shallots, and garlic and cook very slowly, loosely covered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until the onions release their juices, are very soft and syrupy, and are lightly browned.


Add the sherry, Madeira, beef and chicken base, thyme, herbes de Provence, and bay leaf. Raise the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Simmer 4 to 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol.


Stir in the demi-glace and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes.


Preheat the broiler.


Remove the bay leaf, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and ladle the soup into 10 broiler-safe soup crocks. Lay 2 croutons on top of each bowl of soup and sprinkle the cheese over the croutons. The cheese should cover both the crouton and the soup.


Working in batches, broil the soup crocks 2 to 3 inches from the heat source for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese browns and the soup bubblesx around the sides. Use heavy oven mitts to handle the crocks and take great care removing the crocks from the broiler. Garnish each bowl with parsley and serve soup immediately.


Croutons for Five-Onion Soup

Makes 20 to 25 Croutons


One 18- to 20-inch-long baguette or 4 Portugese or Milano rolls


Preheat the oven to 450°F.


Cut the bread on the diagonal into croutons that measure about 2 1/2 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide, and 1/2 inch thick. Spread the croutons on a baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Turn and bake for 4 to 6 minutes on the other side, or until golden brown.


Remove from the oven, slide the croutons onto a cool pan or rack and let cool. Use right away or store in a lidded container for up to 3 days.


Every season hath its pleasures;

Spring may boast her flowery prime,

Yet the vineyard's ruby treasures

Brighten Autumn's sob'rer time.

Thomas Moore


.... Nancy (not a poet at all)

Zucchinis Gone Wild!!

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on July 26, 2010 at 8:28 AM

It’s that time of year again, is your zucchini out of control?? With our very strange spring weather, we didn’t get our garden planted until late, so I’m making a preemptive strike, finding recipes before the zucchini ambushes our life! Cooking Light magazine got me inspired with a zucchini article in the current issue with some new uses: pickles, coleslaw and meatloaf – add 2 cups of zucchini to your beef meatloaf to moisten it up and make it healthy – the kids will never know! On their website you will find “6 Great Recipes for Zucchini” pictured is Zucchini Oven Chips, one even includes chocolate, or another story “Help, I’m Drowning in Zucchini!”

The recipe journal on 101 Cookbooks always has innovative healthy recipes, a few zucchini recipes include: Summer Vegetable Cianfotta, A Tasty Fritta, Spinach and Zucchini Soup, and My Special Zucchini Bread which includes some unique ingredients like poppy seeds and an optional tablespoon of curry powder.


I found a hilarious story about Italian nonnas and their differing opinions on how a zucchini should be cooked at The Italian Pantry, with a stuffed zucchini recipe.


That’s Fit has “10 Healthy Zucchini Recipes” including zucchini that is stuffed, grilled, roasted, encrusted, sautéed, creamed and a ratatouille-wanna-be.


Even the New York Times posted a Zucchini ‘Pasta’ recipe, where it’s not really pasta, but zucchini ribbons.


The zucchini recipe from the Holm Family Cookbook that I tested in preparation for the zucchini onslaught was my Aunt Joan and Uncle Frank’s Sweet and Sour Zucchini, you can keep them in the refrigerator for weeks, and are refreshingly delicious.


Sweet and Sour Zucchini


2 tablespoons dehydrated onions

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup salad oil

2/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped celery

5 uncooked zucchini (each about 7 inches long), very thinly sliced


Place the onions in a small bowl and add the cider vinegar. Let them stand for 30 minutes. Then whisk in the sugar, salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar.


In a large bowl, combine the bell pepper, celery, and zucchini. Pour the vinegar-onion

mixture over the vegetables and blend well. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for

at least 6 hours. Drain and serve cold. Serves 10


- Nancy, on Zucchini Patrol


"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."  -Jim Davis

Enjoying Food without the Calories

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on June 30, 2010 at 8:08 AM

I’m a Food Network junkie, I could watch it all day long –Bobby Flay (our favorite), The Neelys, Guy Fieri, The Barefoot Contessa, Alton Brown, Paula Deen, Nigella, Giada, and the list goes on. Low and behold, last month they launched another foodie network, The Cooking Channel, woohoo, some competition! So now when I’m waking up and sipping my coffee early in the morning and not in the mood for Emeril’s humor, I have a choice!


They have kept many of our favorites, brought back the classics –Julia Child and Graham Kerr,



and launched a wide variety of new shows – Chinese Food Made Easy, Everyday Exotic, French Food at Home, The Thirsty Traveler, Indian Food Made Easy and a host of others.


And of course, there are plenty of great recipes online: Chicken Chow Mein, Grilled Vegetable Antipasti; Tomato Tortilla Soup; Fusilli with Shrimp, Orange and Arugula; Potato and Pea Samosas and a gazillion more.


Check ‘em out on T.V. or the web, it’s free, it doesn't collect dust on your bookshelf, and it’s a way to enjoy food without the calories!





Foodies Unite

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 31, 2010 at 8:18 PM

If you live near a major metropolitan city, I've recently discovered a couple of cool foodie emails...

First, there's Groupon, a daily email featuring great deals on the best stuff to do, see, EAT, and buy in a variety of cities across the U.S. I received one this week for half off at Eos Restaurant in San Francisco. You can't beat that, something cool to do (or more importantly, eat) at an unbeatable price. For details visit http://www.groupon.com/san-francisco/


Second, is Tasting Table, delivering the best of food and drink culture to adventurous eaters everywhere, sounds like us! They have dining, wine, cooking, drink recommendations and more. Some recent San Francisco area topics included: Campton Place's Indian breakfast, the perfect churro, a vegan charcuterie plate, a toast to English muffins, the thrills of the classic Korean wrap, French toast with a Brazilian bronze, just to mention a few. For more info visit http://tastingtable.com/sf/index.htm


While I'm at it, a couple of interesting foodie blogs/forums to visit:

Chow - http://www.chow.com/blog/

RecipeZaar - http://www.recipezaar.com/members/community.php


Ciao, I mean, Chow!


A Free Daily Recipe "Feed"

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 17, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Being the forward minded techie thinker that I am (yeah, right, I’m just now upgrading my 10+ year old Power Mac to a 3 year old Apple Laptop!), I recently encouraged those on our “Holm Family Cookbook” email list to subscribe to the RSS Feed (most commonly expanded as "Really Simple Syndication") for this Cowgirl’s Foodie Blog. This morning I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t be able to answer anyone’s questions on the RSS Feed if I don't have at least one myself.” So, it’s time to move into the 21st century now that it’s 2010, and I'm off to subscribe to my first RSS Feed.

 Oops, found out that I needed a RSS Reader to subscribe to a feed. Now off to Google to find a RSS Reader. Fortunately, Google has their own reader, and I knew it would be simple and free, so I set up a Google account, went to their RSS Reader page, and they had a video tutorial on the subject. Well, low and behold, the tutorial sample was for recipes! Uh oh, my weakness, recipes. But they are free for crying out loud, and they come automatically, and don’t take up any space physically, so I think I’m safe. So now I’m on the prowl for the perfect recipe RSS feed, or two, or maybe even three!


I started a search for a recipe subscription, and boy oh boy, there are tons, some familiar, some unfamiliar: Recipezaar, Epicurious (an old familiar favorite), Tech-Recipes (afraid to even look?!), Banana Bread Recipe (really, how many do you need? 10,861 subscribers, I guess there’s a need!), Good Morning America recipe feed, Perfect Popcorn (hmmm), Cupcake Recipes (mmm mmm), Potato Patch Recipes (only 15 subscribers?), Cooking for Engineers (oh my), and the list went on, and on, and on, and on.


So I went the safe and familiar route, Epicurious (267,590 subscribers, must be good). Immediately upon subscribing, up popped three recipes:


1) Escarole and Butter Lettuce Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Hazelnuts Recipe from Bon Appétit;


2) Rustic Tomato Soup with Toasted Cumin and Mini Rajas Recipe from Bon Appétit;


3) Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Orange Frosting Recipe from Bon Appétit.


Hey, those all sound pretty good, but realistically, the only one I would probably attempt this week would be the Tomato Soup, it includes cumin seeds, one of my favorite ingredients, and especially soup because there are 5 days of rain on the way to Northern California. Here’s the recipe below:


Rustic Tomato Soup with Toasted Cumin and Mini Rajas Soup

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

6 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups chopped onions (about 2 large)

6 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 teaspoons achiote paste*

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 28-ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes with basil in juice, tomatoes diced, all juice reserved

4 cups low-salt chicken broth

1 3-to 4-inch dried guajillo chile,** stemmed, seeded, coarsely torn

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Coarse kosher salt



Vegetable oil (for frying)

4 4-inch corn tortilla squares (cut from round tortillas), halved, cut into 2 x 1/4-inch strips

1 5-ounce package mini bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut into thin strip


For Soup:

Stir cumin seeds in small skillet over medium heat until starting to smoke and pop, about 4 minutes. Pour seeds onto plate; cool. Grind finely in spice mill. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Chill in airtight container.


Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions. Cover and cook until tender but not brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Using garlic press, squeeze in garlic. Add achiote and allspice. Stir over low heat 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice, broth, and guajillo chile. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 15 minutes.


Working in 2-cup batches, blend soup in processor to coarse puree (some texture should remain). Return to same pot. Mix in 11/2 teaspoons toasted cumin; season with cayenne, if desired, and coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.


For rajas:

Pour enough oil into heavy medium saucepan to reach depth of 3/4 inch. Heat oil over medium heat 4 minutes. Fry half of tortilla strips until just golden. Using slotted spoon, transfer strips to paper towels to drain (color will darken slightly). Repeat with remaining strips.


Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons tortilla-frying oil from saucepan in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mini peppers. Toss until tender, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. DO AHEAD: All rajas can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.


Reheat soup over medium heat. Ladle into bowls. Top with tortilla and pepper rajas and sprinkle with toasted cumin. Serve, passing additional cumin separately.


* A paste made from achiote seeds; sold at Latin markets.

** A maroon-colored, fairly hot dried chile up to 6 inches long and about 11/2 inches wide; available at some supermarkets and at Latin markets.


So, if you’re feeling adventurous, or hungry, get on out there and sign up for a RSS Feed for recipes. Or, of course, The Cowgirl’s Foodie Blog RSS Feed, the link is right at the bottom of this page!


As Julia Child would say, Bon Appétit!



The Quest for a Wok

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 9, 2010 at 8:56 AM

Ni hao! I recently saw Martin Yan on Emeril Live, Martin was one of the early television chefs that we just loved to watch. “Yan Can Cook” came on PBS in 1982, years before the Food Network came on the scene. He was so fun to watch, quite a sense of humor, and his hands were lightening fast! There is a YouTube video where Martin carves a chicken in 18-seconds, it takes me about an hour and the possible loss of a fingertip!

Many moons ago we received a wok for our wedding; unfortunately, during one of our moves, the wok was sacrificed (a rather large unwieldy thing). Seeing Martin at work inspired me, my quest for a wok begins. Bob and I had been talking about wanting a wok for a few years, he has become a better cook than myself during his unemployment, a very patient chopper, and fastidious kitchen cleaner! So, it’s rather appropriate that I should be shopping for a new wok on our 30th wedding anniversary (how the heck did that happen, 30 years?!). And hopefully Bob will be using it more than I do.


I had saved an article on buying a wok several years ago, but of course I couldn’t find it. I did remember that the author had visited The Wok Shop in San Francisco to purchase it, and that the “traditional” woks are actually very inexpensive. So I went to The Wok Shop website and started shopping around, many, many, many choices, but couldn’t remember which wok had been recommended.

So, I did a Google search on “how to buy a wok” and found a perfect story at  eatingoutloud.com, I think he may have read the same article I did! He recommended the traditional Chinese cast iron wok, made of very thin iron, unlike our faithful ½ ton frying pans.

The quest continues…back to The Wok Shop, and the traditional cast iron section. You won’t believe the price, their smallest wok at 13” retails for $9.95, yes, that’s right, $9.95!! Just because it was so phenomenally cheap, I did a Google search to see how much other retailers were gouging us for woks, and there on the first page was a wok for $234.95??!! I’m sorry, I’ll stick with the wok used by the locals from San Francisco’s Chinatown for $16.95. I went with the largest at 16”, our family is used to cooking for a crowd even when there are only 2 in the house. Well, the search didn’t end there, now I had to look for some authentic accessories, a “chuan” or spatula, a “hoak” or ladle, a skimmer and a bamboo steam rack.


And then, the pursuit reached a pinnacle when I spied the really cool section…cleavers! Bob has always wanted a cleaver, but they were always too expensive, or others looked so cheap, we never bought one. Not at the Wok Shop, carbon steel cleavers starting at $6.95, I love this place! They did have an extra heavy duty BBQ Cleaver for $79.95, but I stuck with the vegetable cleaver that was on sale for $9.95, gotta love a bargain. The website described it as “popular among many Chinese chefs in San Francisco,” how can I go wrong, Chinatown is my absolute favorite neighborhood in the city, the largest Chinatown outside of Asia as well as the oldest Chinatown in North America. After shopping around on the site for a while, the pursuit continued, I decided that we really needed a meat cleaver too (I think there’s room in my kitchen drawer, or I’ll throw away the knife that currently resides in the cleaver spot in my knife rack). This turned out to be the most expensive purchase at a whopping $19.95.


After finalizing my purchase, I realized I needed a cookbook, and of course it had to be a Martin Yan cookbook, so the hunt continued at amazon.com where I’m a one-click shopper, I was now treading in dangerous territory. I perused the list and chose just one, “Martin Yan, Quick and Easy”. But low and behold, there was the inexpensive option of shopping from the used/new section at Amazon, and I found a new book for $4.63, a steal even with the cost of shipping.

Well, now that my quest was accomplished, I have to wait patiently for the arrival of the found treasures, so I will check back in on the blog once we have the wok seasoned and put to good use!


zai jian, nancy

Check Out This Website . . .

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 6, 2010 at 1:33 AM

I have found a very entertaining website.  It is http://www.thepioneerwoman.com.


The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, is a city girl who has married a 4th generation rancher.  She tells very interesting and amusing stories about her life as a rancher’s wife.  She likes photography and cooking.  She has a lot of recipes on her website and she has step by step photos on how to make them. 


I found out about the website when she recently came out with her cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Her cookbook is more than just a cookbook.  It has stories and a lot of photos.


A lot of her stories about working with cattle bring back memories of helping my grandfather with his cattle.


Check it out. 

~Wendy Howe~


I feel like Dick Tracy!

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 4, 2010 at 10:37 AM

Some of you may be too young to have even read the Dick Tracy comic strip in the newspaper (who even reads newspapers anymore, as you sit in front or your computer reading this blog?), but he was a super cool police detective with even cooler gadgets. As early as the 40’s he had a 2-way wrist radio, very forward thinking at the time, even the simple digital watch didn’t come on the scene until the 70’s. Now you’re probably wondering what does Dick Tracy and his watch have to do with food?


Well, a few months ago I was heading into Safeway and realized I didn’t know all of the ingredients I needed for a recipe. I live in the hills 20 minutes from town, so you have to make the most of every trip, and make do at home when you’re missing an ingredient. Well, low and behold, I remembered I had google on my iphone, so I googled the recipe and sure enough, I found it and the list of ingredients, how cool is that?! So I walked through the store picking up the ingredients using my little iphone as my list, that’s where Dick Tracy plays into the story, ultra-cool, tech savvy, useful gadget!


That was just the beginning, with all of the app’s for the iphone, I now have an entire panel of food applications on my phone! Cookbook fetishes tend to run in our family (our mom was a resource librarian, books are in our blood), I have stacks of them, along with stacks of recipes I have pulled out of magazines and printed from the food network site. My iphone is so much more convenient, it’s like having the Library of Congress cookbook section at my fingertips! Most of these app's are free, some are 99 cents or $1.99, same price as the used cookbooks I can buy in the Livermore Library used book store, and don't gather dust, what a deal!


I have used epicurious most frequently (I used to watch the t.v. show early on, and then look up the recipes online), then there is the old stand by Betty Crocker, Allrecipes, Crock Pot, Tapas Lite, Whole Foods, Drinks Free (an alcoholic beverage recipe list that is unbelieveable, over 5,800 recipes! We used it up at Lake Almanor to show the bartender how to make a Hurricane.), bigoven, and more!


So if you have an iphone and don't know what's for dinner, pull that puppy out and head for town! More iphone foodie tips to come in the future…Dick Tracy, over and out!

~ it's really nancy

The season for winter squash, don't say yuck

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 30, 2009 at 8:54 AM

Bob and I are Food Network junkies, along with the travel channel, especially “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain. Our favorite is Bobby Flay, the grill meister. One of his grill recipes was acorn squash cut into rings, grilled with maple syrup, brown sugar or butter, or combination of, delicious for even the average squash hater. We also watch Emeril, a fellow Portuguese, in the morning when we are waking up with our coffee, and I recently saw him cook a spaghetti squash. We were planning a trip to Watsonville to visit friends, and their daughter Ashley is a vegetarian, so I thought this would be a good recipe to try. I googled spaghetti squash, and found a recipe that Emeril had cooked on the Planet Green/Discovery channel. I had bought some canned Italian Cherry Tomatoes at the Grocery Outlet that I really wanted to try (if they were good I could stock up before they ran out), so I used those in the marinara sauce. I baked two squash in separate pans - following the recipe I put water in the first pan, but forgot the water in the second, and they both turned out great. I had brought down a mix of veggies from my kitchen and added a few things to the marinara, a green bell pepper, a handful of fresh basil, didn’t have tomato puree so I used a small can of tomato sauce, and forgot to add the Italian Seasoning (we were hungry and I always rush through recipes without reading them through!). It turned out delicious, and very healthy to boot. Click here for a link to the recipe and get over the aversion to squash! ~nancy mueller~

Nancy's version of Emeril's spaghetti squash with marinara sauce

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