Archive for the ‘Hints’ Category

During shows, my assistant and I encounter leftover items that we do not want to throw out.  During the Siouxland Renaissance Festival in 2006, we encountered post-breakfast issue of having leftover hard boiled eggs and rice porridge.  By combining them with chickpeas (garbanzo beans), spices, and other vegetables, we came up with this tasty dish that tastes great served with some pita bread.Egg salad

This past weekend at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, we altered this traditional recipe and used leftover couscous instead and it was a favorite!

This dish is especially good made in bulk and used for lunches at work.  It’s cost effective, healthy, and tasty.  Enjoy!

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced into disks
1 cup of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
2 cups of cousous (as in photo)
3 green onions or 1 large leek, diced or 1/2 red onion or 2 shallots
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 – 1/2 TB yellow curry powder
1 TB cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp of sesame or olive oil
2 TB cilantro
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
* A dried pepper powder may be added if you need more spiciness.

Blend all together in a single bowl wooden or ceramic. Let sit for an hour and stir again. Serve in some pita bread. DO NOT PREPARE THIS RECIPE IN A METAL BOWL!! The metal bowl will affect the flavor of the salad.

It should be a very mild curried egg salad. If you require more spice, feel free to add peppers or chili oil at will. I encourage experimentation.


Book Review: Informative and Interesting

   Posted by: anj68 Tags: ,

Occasionally, I am asked to review various cookbooks and most of the time I refuse, but when I was asked to review Skinny Spices: 50 Nifty Homemade Spice Blends That Can Turn Blah Healthy Eating Into Flavor-Rich Delicious Dining, I thought I would give it a go.SkinnySpicesFinalCover

The reason I agreed to review the book is on two fronts. 

  1. The author writes about the history of spices (something I am very interested in).
  2. Talks about the struggles with weight loss.  I’ve had personal experience with the weight loss failures and successes.  In 2010, I lost 60 lbs, but two years later I gained 40 of it back, and am fighting it again and have lost over 20 lbs of my 40 lb. goal. 

That being said, I really enjoyed reading Klein’s book.  Although fairly easy to read, it was educational and interesting.  I will probably keep my copy in my reference library to go back to for additional information as I prepare my own articles and presentations.

The spice blends are very diverse with international and domestic (U.S. influenced) flavors. The e-book creates a lot of links to recipes that any culinary enthusiasts would welcome.  Each recipe also contains the nutritional data and nutrient exchange that many are looking for when planning their meals and are very Weight Watcher/Nutrisystem/Medifast/Slimgenics friendly. 

As a cook, I am looking forward to trying many of the featured recipes and recommended spice blends.  If you have a chance, take a look at the book.  It’s worth the read! 

As a note, this review was not a paid review nor am I endorsing any weightloss plan.


Rosemary Health Benefits

   Posted by: anj68 Tags: , ,

In ancient times, Rosemary was used to relieve abdominal pain, gout, insomnia, and for the calming nerves. People would burn rosemary branches on the altars of the gods, considering it a sacred herb and the Egyptians placed the herb in pharaohs’ tombs. The custom of burning rosemary branches was practiced in hospitals in France until the 20th century – and used for cleaning the air. Also because of its antiseptic effect, the plant was appreciated and used for conserving meat, even in extremely hot weather – it was known that rosemary prevents and delays the decay of meat.

Rosemary in known as an analgesic, antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antiviral, aphrodisiac, and disinfectant while stimulating bile secretion and helping eliminate it in the intestines, destroying microorganisms, increasing the quantity of eliminated urine, improving the blood flow and refreshing and energizing the mind. Rosemary helps as a memory stimulant and has calming effects by working against fatigue, sadness, anxiety, calming muscle soreness, digestive pains and also, indigestion caused by stress.

Rosemary improves digestion, fights against obesity, liver diseases, gastritis, hyper or hypocholesterolemia, bronchic asthma, edemas, and adjusts fast heart beats caused especially by irritability, coffee or tobacco excess. Because of its antiseptic and tonic properties, rosemary is extremely beneficial in cases of fainting, influenza, hangovers, asthma, bronchitis, cramps, constipation, cystitis, headaches, polypus, colds, cough, sinusitis or muscular pains. The plant also has a good influence on the blood circulation and blood pressure.

SOURCES:,,, and


Natural Dyes for Easter Eggs

   Posted by: anj68 Tags: , ,

This is a re-release of an earlier story on making natural dyes for Easter eggs. Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

History of “Easter” eggs:
The ancient Zoroastrians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration, which falls on the Spring equinox. The Nawrooz tradition has existed for at least 2,500 years. The sculptures on the walls of Persepolis show people carrying eggs for Nowrooz to the king. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

At the Jewish Passover Seder, a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes the festival sacrifice offered at the Temple in Jerusalem.

There are good grounds for the association between hares (later termed Easter bunnies) and eggs, through folklore confusion between hares’ forms (where they raise their young) and plovers’ nests.

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Barbecue is Best

   Posted by: anj68 Tags: , ,

Memorial Day is quickly approaching and it is a time to get together, remember those who we have lost, and a time for family.  My own family visits friends, go fishing, and enjoy a nice barbecue.  Proper barbecue (BBQ) is slow-cooking meat at a low temperature for a long time over wood or charcoal. In North America, BBQ originated in the late 1800s during the cattle drives. The cowboys were fed the less than perfect cuts of meat, often brisket, a tough and stringy piece of meat that required five to seven hours of cooking to tenderize. Other barbecue meats used were pork butt, pork ribs, beef ribs, venison and goat.

The slow cooking would allow the toughest of meats to tenderize during the slow cooking process.  It is no secret that I enjoy cooking over a fire.  BBQ and smoking meats is a nice way of creating a tasty meal out of the cheapest cuts.  Sometimes even sealing up a tough piece of meat, like brisket, can be tender using a slow cooked method.  On of my favorites, is using a cast iron pot on the fire or grill.  I place thinly sliced onions or leeks at the bottom with the brisket on top with just a bit of salt, pepper, and chili powder and then place it fat side up and cover the pot.

The onions will keep the meat from sticking to the pot, help flavor the meat, and help keep it moist while it slow cooks.  When using this method, I let it cook for 2-3 hours.  It’s hard to resist though as it cooks, it smells so good.  When done, I use the onions as a side dish to be served with the brisket.  I avoid the sauces as it just creates a mess.  Keep the flavors simple and you will enjoy your dish.

Other variations can include:

  • marinade of soy sauce and honey or using curry powder for an Asian influenced
  • marinade of Coca-Cola, so a bit of a “pop.”  The sugar in this version will help caramelize the outside while leaving the inside moist and flavorful.
  • A Latin inspired, chili powder and cumin with garlic

Using a wood fire:

Depending on the types of wood you use, can determine the heat of the fire and how long it will last.  Hard wood like Oak, will burn slower and longer.  Pine will burn fast and hot.  I prefer to use fruit tree wood or cedar due to its aromatic influences.  Wood fires are very different the standard BBQ or stove/oven cooking.  I strongly encourage you to try wood fire cooking if you haven’t already.  Please make sure you use safe precautions including having a bucket of water or a hose ready in case the fire gets out of control.

I hope all of my readers have a safe Memorial Day.

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