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Friday, Dec. 26, 2014
Festive holiday appetizers (12/14/14)
Appetizers are the food of the holidays. From office parties to football games to tree decorating night, finger foods are perfect for parties. I love a plate filled with little bites of all different flavors. Fresh, canned and dried produce can pack appetizers with flavor and add color to the table as well. Vegetable and fruit trays are the standard, but there are many other ways to use produce in appetizers...
Getting down to the roots (11/09/14)
Root vegetables are some of my favorites. They are hearty and filling and full of flavor. Many are also very colorful which always makes food fun! As we start to think of the holiday season and winter meals, roots are a great addition. Think Thanksgiving. Where would it be without the sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes? Pot roast is incomplete without the carrots. Then there are parsnips and beets, turnips and rutabagas...
Fall comfort foods warm the soul (10/19/14)
The cooler days bring to the table comfort foods. Warm, hearty dishes that stick to your ribs. Last Saturday, I spent the morning at the Murfreesboro farmers' market on the square. Winter squashes, root vegetables, apples and greens flooded the market -- all the fall favorites...
Relishing the flavors of fall (09/14/14)
Fall -- ahh -- a breath of fresh, cool, dry air. A welcome relief after the heat of summer. The gardens are winding down from the summer crops and cool season vegetables are taking over while the fall fruits ripen. It is the perfect time for relishes...
Summer's bounty in a jar (08/10/14)
When I was a child, I remember going down into the basement of my friend's house. There on the shelves were hundreds of jars filled with all colors of fruits and vegetables, jams, jellies, pickles and more. It was beautiful and I was fascinated. That began my interest in canning. And now I love having a few jars of summer tomatoes and green beans and some jams and jellies on the shelf for winter...
Spaghetti squash: Beyond a pasta substitute (07/13/14)
Summer calls for light, refreshing meals and for me, shrimp fits that bill perfectly. Shrimp is my favorite seafood and its mild flavor takes so well to strong marinades, rubs and sauces. So when I saw spaghetti squash at the Bedford Farmer's Market last week, my first thought was shrimp...
Layer a trifle for tasty summer treat (06/08/14)
It was a sad day last week when I checked the Forgie's Fruit Farm website to see when the cherries would be ready over in Marshall County. What I learned was that they lost their entire crop to the cold weather this spring. No local cherries (the good news was that the peaches are fine)...
Strawberries meet the heat (05/11/14)
The strawberries are here! As the first fruit to ripen in the spring, the sight of these bright red gems with their perky little green caps seems to bring in the warm weather and the beginning of the summer season. They are only here for a little while so get them while you can over the next month or so...
A rainy day, or anyday, delight (04/13/14)
I love rainy days. Those gray days with the gentle pitter patter of drops on the roof. They're cozy, especially on a day when I'm at home where they inspire me to get into the kitchen and cook something. It gives me the time to make things that take a little more effort than a quick weeknight meal...
Stir frying -- perfect for season transitions (03/16/14)
March is one of those unpredictable transitional months that takes us from the cold of winter to the welcome warmth of spring. We go from hearty, warming meals to ones filled with the cool crops of the early spring garden, with fresher, brighter flavors. Stir frying is a perfect technique for cooking during the transitional months. You can adjust your ingredients from root vegetables and beef for the cooler days to chicken with peas, broccoli or asparagus for the beautiful, sunny spring days...
Chasing the chill! Pot roasts are an enduring classic (02/09/14)
Brrrr! We have certainly had our share of bone chilling cold this year. Staying inside and keeping warm has become a lifestyle lately. To stave off the cold, there is nothing better than to slow cook meat and vegetables in a warm oven and have a hot meal...
Warm up with a souper supper (01/12/14)
Soups and stews are the ultimate comfort food. Perfect for cold days. In our family, my Dad was the soup maker. In the winter, he would spend the day making split pea soup, chili from the left over Christmas prime rib or potato and leek soup. We would eat it for dinner and then have the leftovers for lunch with grilled cheese sandwiches. It would fill the house with delicious aromas all day, building the anticipation of that first spoonful...
Crowd-pleasing -- and festive -- cranberries (12/08/13)
Bright red and green. The colors of the holidays are everywhere in December. In the food world this means cranberries. These tart, colorful, versatile jewels of late fall are found in so many of the holiday treats. From cranberry breads and cookies to pork roasts and gelatin salads, cranberries add a refreshing flavor and color to the season...
Kale's everywhere for a good reason (11/10/13)
"Come to Kale!" In Scotland, kale became so popular that this phrase meant an invitation to dinner. This superfood would do well to become so popular here in the United States. It is packed with Vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium and many, many phytochemicals that help to lower cholesterol and prevent certain types of cancers. But while it is a great nutritional powerhouse, the good news is that kale can be a tasty addition to many types of hearty fall dishes too...
Orange bell peppers star in this tricky treat (10/13/13)
I love Halloween. All the children in their costumes coming to the door -- about 200 in my neighborhood! As a child it was a special day to go pick out your costume or to make it at home. We even went trick or treating in two feet of snow in Colorado one year with my silky store bought Snow White costume leaving a trail of red dye on the snow...
Pork and apples (09/08/13)
"Pork chops and applesauce." Anyone from my generation will remember these famous words from Peter Brady of the Brady Bunch television show. While I don't think Peter did much of the cooking, (Alice the live-in housekeeper did most of that), he definitely had the right idea. ...
Beat the heat with dressed up meat (08/18/13)
When it's hot outside and you need dinner on the table, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven for three hours to make a roast and heat up the kitchen. Summer is a great time for cold dishes and grilling outside. But plain grilled meats can get boring after a while. With all of the fresh fruits and vegetables available this time of the year, a great solution is to dress up those grilled meats with salsas, chutneys and relishes...
Pack up the picnic basket (06/09/13)
The weather has warmed up and it's the perfect time for eating outside before it gets too terribly hot. Picnics can be grilling out in the backyard or packing a cooler and heading to the park pavilion or sacking up a lunch for your backpack on the hiking trail. No matter your style of picnicking, seasonal sandwiches, grilled foods and veggie packed salads are the foods for the summer...
Ladies' lunches (05/12/13)
My Mom and I often go out for lunch on Saturdays or during the holidays when I'm at home. We love to check out the little ladies' luncheon places and tearooms. It seems like they come and go with the wind and when one closes another opens. We enjoy checking out the menus and décor and just spending the afternoon together...
Earth's bounty of spring vegetables (04/14/13)
The earth is springing back to life and the warmer weather is bringing the start of a bountiful harvest. I love the spring produce and all of the fresh new flavors after a winter of preserved foods and root vegetables. The strawberries, asparagus, leaf lettuces, escarole, spinach, spring onions, radishes, baby beets, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, broccoli rabe, collards and kale all turn into beautiful, flavorful dishes for a new season...
Simplicity at its best for Spring Eggstravaganza (03/10/13)
Ahh Spring! Six hundred cheeping little chicks arrived at our office this week for the 4-H Chick Chain project where youth raise chickens and then bring some of them back to the county fair to sell when they start laying eggs. The project teaches youth responsibility and caring for the animals. ...
Dinners from the pantry (02/10/13)
Whenever I think of pantry dinners, it immediately brings to mind Tuna Noodle Casserole. My brother and I hated it. That was the worst possible response to the "What's for dinner?" question. My parents liked it so we would have to suffer through sometimes -- we didn't have a short order cook, you either ate what was on the table or went hungry. ...
Bright tomatoes lighten up a winter's day (01/13/13)
One of the prettiest sights on a dreary winter day is jars of bright red summer tomatoes on the pantry shelf. Taken at their prime and processed, these beauties are just waiting to brighten up a winter day with a hearty meal. My grandmother used to put up quarts and quarts of tomatoes from my grandfather's garden for the winter. When my mom and dad got married and moved away to California, my mother's first question to her mother was, "Where do I get tomatoes?"...
A taste of the season (12/09/12)
December's Seasonal Eating demonstration at the University of Tennessee Extension Office featured recipes using dried and canned items -- a cook's friend during the winter season when certain fresh fruits and vegetables are unavailable. Whitney Danhof prepared the recipes below to the delight of a large class of guests....
Baking for the holidays (12/09/12)
One of my favorite things at the holidays is walking into the house after baking cookies and cakes and breads. The smell of cinnamon and cloves and yeast just fills your heart with holiday joy and says welcome to the season! My Mom always made several different kinds of cookies and put them in the freezer. She would spend a whole day baking cherry winks and pecan sandies and sugar cookies and toffee bars. The house smelled like heaven...
Holiday meal helpers (11/11/12)
From quick family dinners after shopping, to big family celebrations on the holidays themselves, to entertaining friends throughout the season -- anything we can do to prepare ahead or have on hand for easy last minute preparation makes the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable...
Cole crops for cold days (11/11/12)
The term "cole" is derived from a Latin word meaning stem or cabbage and is where we get the name for the shredded cabbage salad, coleslaw. Cole crops is a general term used to describe several vegetables in the mustard family, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale and kohlrabi. The cole crops enjoy cool seasons and are somewhat cold tolerant so are a great choice for the fall months...
Kale is calling as fall's chill arrives (10/14/12)
As the air turns cooler and nights are chilly, my thoughts turn to hearty soups that warm the body and stick to the ribs. Chili is the standard for fall and winter, especially for Halloween evening. But this year, why not try something a little different -- a hearty White Bean and Kale Soup?...
Apples are falling all around (09/09/12)
I love fall. A new school year, crisp air, the colorful leaves and all of the fall flavors. My Mom taught elementary school so September was always apples. We cut them out of construction paper and used them for all kinds of things in her classroom -- students' names on their desks, bulletin boards, spelling words, etc. And then there were the apples that started showing up at the farm markets. Red, yellow, green. Sweet, tart, juicy, spicy. They all screamed fall...
Rewards from the fair (08/05/12)
We had a really good county fair this year. Overall the entries for the creative arts, food preservation, foods and agriculture were up by about 100 entries. We had more garden produce than I was expecting since it had been so dry prior to the fair...
Take a cue, and feast on some 'cue (07/15/12)
One of the joys of summer is grilling outside. Hamburgers, barbecued chicken, steaks -- the smoky flavor and blackened grill marks give main dishes an extra boost of flavor that screams summer. To go along with these meats are many different side dishes -- slaws, beans, potato salads, pasta salads. The farmers' market is a great place to find inspiration for sides with fresh flavors that complement grilled meats...
Dedicated to dairymen (06/17/12)
It's Father's Day and that makes me think of the men in my life -- my own father, of course, but also his father -- my Grandpa Danhof. Grandpa loved June. Not only was his birthday in June but it's Dairy Month and my grandfather spent his career working for a dairy processing plant in Michigan...
Farmers' Market surprises (06/10/12)
I visited the Rutherford County Farmers' Market this week to see what was growing and to get inspired for a salad for dinner. As I perused the booths, I saw a variety of items, all suited to a delicious tossed salad -- lettuces, summer squash, cabbage, tomatoes and peas...
Desserts from the farm (05/13/12)
Every year my family vacations in August at a cottage in Muskegon, Mich., along the shore of Lake Michigan. Western Michigan's beaches are beautiful with the sand and fresh water rolling in with no jellyfish or crabs or sharks to worry about so it's great for swimming. ...
Quiche, please! A spring favorite from your Easter leftovers (04/08/12)
Quiche and spring is a pair made in heaven. A fluffy, light egg mixture in a flaky homemade crust studded with beautiful vegetables -- what could be better? Pair this with a salad of fresh baby spinach bathed in a lemony vinaigrette and you have the queen of all spring brunches to enjoy on the patio in the warm, fresh air...
Back to basics for cool delights (03/11/12)
March is one of those transitional months - in like a lion, out like a lamb. It looks pretty outside but can be deceiving, and everyone is looking forward to the longer, warmer days and fresh produce from the garden. But, for now, we depend on our pantry, longer storage items and staple produce from the grocery store...
Parsnips: A winter jewel (02/12/12)
Sweet, nutty, starchy and full of flavor, the parsnip is a jewel of the winter vegetables. Brought to America by the first settlers from Europe, it has not become a well-known and used vegetable here as the potato reigns supreme in most American kitchens. However, you will be amazed by this flavorful powerhouse and the versatility it brings to your winter dishes...
Harvest your pantry for winter comfort foods (01/15/12)
Winter is the perfect time for comfort foods. Hearty and flavorful dishes that warm you to the soul in meat and potatoes style. While there isn't much growing outside to fill these dishes, your pantry holds the key to creating great dinners packed with nutrition and produce. Actually, January is canned food month so let's celebrate with recipes from the pantry...
Fruits refresh the palate in winter, too (12/11/11)
Fruit is not the first thing that comes to mind with thoughts of the holidays. But if we think about it, fruits have long been linked to this season. For me, it all began as a child when Santa always put an apple and an orange in my stocking as a special treat. The red felt boot with my name in white that my Mom had made would bulge with the biggest apples and oranges I had ever seen...
Comforting cabbage (11/13/11)
Cabbage doesn't exactly bring to mind glamorous, beautiful dishes and upscale dining. What this rather homely vegetable brings to mind for me is comforting family meals. My first memory of cabbage on the table was what Mom called New England Boiled Dinner. Cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions were simmered with a corned beef for hours on the stove, filling the house with a mouth watering aroma...
Pumpkin tricks and treats (10/09/11)
Jack-o-lanterns and decorating might be the most popular use of pumpkins this time of year, but the real treasure lies in the smaller pie pumpkins that are made for cooking. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, even roasted pumpkin with maple syrup or a creamy pumpkin soup highlight this wonderful fall vegetable...
Incredible edible eggplant (09/11/11)
Eggplant is an often overlooked vegetable in the produce section. It is beautiful with its glossy purple/black skin and little green cap, but what do you do with it when you get it home? Actually, eggplant is very versatile and often used in European, Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. It loves to absorb other flavors and has a texture that makes it a good meat substitute in dishes such as eggplant parmesan...
Squash that appetite! (07/10/11)
Here a squash, there a squash, everywhere a squash, squash. When the zucchini, yellow squash and patty pans start maturing in the garden, the harvest is plentiful and the question of the day is "What do I do with it all?". The good news is that these summer squashes are so versatile. They can be used in dishes from salads and appetizers to breads and desserts...
A tribute to Texas Czech (06/12/11)
Where can you get handmade sausages and hotdogs, try three different types of Kolache and have a lunch of the best sauerkraut and cabbage rolls you've ever eaten? If you're thinking Eastern Europe, think a little closer -- Texas actually! Gay Ervin and I just returned from the International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference in Austin, Texas. ...
Bring on the broccoli (05/08/11)
President George H. W. Bush may not have been a broccoli fan, but he must be in the minority as the average person in the United States eats 4 ˝ pounds of broccoli each year. As a cool weather crop, May is the perfect time to enjoy this tasty and versatile vegetable. ...
Welcome spring with asparagus (04/10/11)
Nothing welcomes spring in the kitchen more than fresh asparagus. Ideal spring conditions can cause these flavorful stalks to grow more than ten inches in a twenty-four hour period, which is good for us who want to cook with it. If you have only used the canned asparagus, I encourage you to try using the fresh this spring for a whole new taste...
Citrus warms chilly days (01/16/11)
I like to think of citrus fruits and juices as liquid sunshine during the long winter months. Its tangy, perky flavor wakes up the taste buds and reminds us of sunny Florida or California. Citrus is so versatile it can be used in main dishes, salads, desserts and side dishes. It is also good for winter months since it is high in vitamin C which helps strengthen the immune system. So I encourage you to break into citrus fruits and juices this month...
Cranberry Orange Scones and holiday baking tips (11/14/10)
November was always the start of the baking season when I was growing up. Mom would always start with the quick breads -- banana, pumpkin and zucchini -- to go into the freezer ready for breakfast or a tray to take to work. Next would come the fruitcake because it needed to "age" for six weeks to develop full flavor for Christmas. Then came the cookies -- dozens of different types for wonderful cookie trays...
Take out, stay in! (10/03/10)
When I was in high school my Dad went to Washington, D.C. for a few weeks to school. When he returned he had bought two Chinese cookbooks. So Mom experimented with the recipes and we started having really great Chinese food at home. One of our favorites was Kung Pao Chicken and it has become a family classic...
Learn your kitchen mathematics (09/20/09)
We were making pear preserves the other day and the recipe called for 3/4 pound of sugar to each pound of pears. We were using our postage meter to figure out how many cups of sugar to add to our 10 pounds of pears. That's when it dawned upon me how nice it would be to have a handy chart of equivalents...
Meat mallet makes meals in no time ... flat (08/16/09)
When you hear a lot of pounding coming from my kitchen, you know it is chicken for dinner. My meat mallet gets a lot of use in the kitchen to pound out boneless, skinless chicken breasts. After pounding them flat they can be used for sautéing. Top the chicken with a Dijon mustard sauce, coat it and fry it and serve it with gravy and mashed potatoes, or dust it with blackening seasoning and pan fry in butter to top a salad. For a quick and easy meal nothing beats a pounded chicken breast...
Thyme for backyard herbs (06/14/09)
One of my favorite things to do when I get home is to go to the herb garden outside the back door and brush up against the plants, releasing their fragrance into the air. The piney smell of rosemary, the citrusy freshness of lemon verbena and the grassy greenness of the flat leaf parsley -- all enticing with their aromas -- inspire me to rush to the kitchen and whip up a flavorful dinner...
Whitney Danhof
Seasonal Eating
Whitney Danhof is with the University of Tennessee Extension in Shelbyville.