Simple advice for a better life.

stuffed-green-peppersGreen Peppers are one of those vegetables that taste great raw, or cooked.  I like all color peppers, green, red, orange, yellow, as a raw vegetable used in salads, or with dips.   I also would like to share this recipe for peppers served hot, as a main meal, or a side dish.  Peppers, like cabbage rolls, may be stuffed with meat, or vegetable stuffing, so I selected the vegetable stuffing for this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 green peppers
  • 3 Tbs. onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil, or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse the peppers under warm running water.
  2. Cut a slice from a stem end of each pepper (about ½ inch thick).
  3. Remove the core, white veins, and seeds.
  4. Fill a medium size pot with water and bring to boil.
  5. Place the peppers, and the tops, into the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove peppers and cool.
  7. Arrange peppers in a shallow baking dish.
  8. Sauté chopped onions in canola oil to a golden color.
  9. Add mushrooms and garlic, and sauté for 3 minutes.
  10. Mix the rice and mushrooms, and season with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, to taste.
  11. Fill the peppers with the rice filling.
  12. Place the pepper top slices over the filling.
  13. Pour ¼ cup of vegetable broth into each pepper, and pour the remaining broth into the pan.
  14. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees F, for 30 minutes.

TIP: If you prefer to stuff peppers with other vegetables, rather than mushrooms, then you might want to use tomato juice in place of the vegetable broth, to
enhance the flavor. I personally do not like the combination of tomato juice and mushrooms/rice filling.

Pysanka by Gucci – Art and Style Go Hand-In-Hand

You might be thinking…….more Pysanka stories……well, think again.
You are partially correct, but this one is very special.

I read this article about Gucci style, and was so amazed by it, that I just had to share it with all of you…. my devoted web readers

You really do not want to miss this beautiful incorporation of art into style, so please read Pysanka by Gucci-Trend de la crème, and share your thoughts in my comments section.

Can’t wait to hear from you ♥♥♥

cabbage-rollsMost of you already are familiar with Cabbage Rolls, but to Eastern European cooks, they are known as Holupki, Holubtsi, or Golabki.   All Cabbage Rolls may look the same, yet be very different, depending on the filling used to prepare them. The most popular filling consists of cooked rice mixed with ground beef, turkey, or meatloaf mix, and spices; however you can also use rice or buckwheat mixed with mushrooms, mashed potatoes, or a vegetarian filling, which I will introduce in this recipe. Cabbage Rolls are not the easiest dish to prepare, since it requires a lot of prep work beforehand, especially the cabbage, but if you love them, it’s well worth the effort.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium size cabbage head
  • 11/2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I use a garlic chopper)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp. caraway seed, crushed (optional)
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • ¼ tsp. salt and pepper, or to taste
  • 1 lb. sauerkraut, slightly rinsed out and drained (optional – see tip below)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 ½ cups tomato juice (I prefer V-8)

Directions:

  • Discard a couple of the outer leaves from the cabbage head, since they are usually damaged, thus not usable.
  • Trim off the top of the core like this:

how-to-core-cabbage-1

  • Haul out the core, to look like this:

how-to-core-cabbage-21

  • Fill a large pot 2/3 full with water.
  • Add 1 Tbs. of salt, and bring to boil.
  • Place the cabbage in the water, with the hauled out end down, and boil it for about 5 minutes.
  • Turn the cabbage head over, so the cored out end is up, and boil for about 3 minutes. Using a long handle fork, such as grilling fork, start separating the leaves from the cabbage, keeping them around the cabbage head, and continue boiling for 2 minutes longer, or until somewhat transparent looking:

loosening-leaves-from-cabbage-head

stacking-up-parboiled-cabbage-leaves

parboiling-cabbage-leaves1

  • Using the same long fork, start removing parboiled leaves onto a platter.
  • Once all the large and medium size leaves are all parboiled and removed, let them cool off.
  • Trim off the coarse veins from the stem of each leaf, like this:

pare-off-coarse-veins-2

Prepare filling.

  1. In saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Cook onions, garlic, oregano, thyme, and caraway seeds for 5 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Stir in rice.
  4. Add vegetable stock, bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender.
  5. Stir in carrots, zucchini, salt and pepper.
  6. Let cool
  7. Fill the cabbage leaves to form rolls.
  8. Cup you hand, place a cabbage leaf in your cupped palm, with the outer section of the leaf towards your fingers, spoon 1/3 cup of filling onto the bottom of each leaf, like this:

place-filling-inside-the-leaf1

  • Fold up the bottom and sides of the leaf over the filling, then roll up, forming a roll like this:

folding-the-leaf-to-make-a-roll2

  • Line a 9×13 baking dish with half of the sauerkraut (optional – see tip below).
  • Arrange cabbage rolls on top, side by side, to form a layer.
  • Cover with remaining sauerkraut (optional – see tip below).
  • Whisk tomato paste into tomato juice, and pour over the rolls.
  • Cover securely with foil.
  • Bake in 350 degrees F, for 2 hours, or until tender.

Tip: You may exclude the sauerkraut, if you are not a big fan of this vegetable, or if you do not wish to experience a more piquant flavor of this dish. In that case, line the bottom of the pan with chopped up left over cooked cabbage leaves. If you do not have any leaves left to cover the top, then the tomato sauce will be sufficient.

Someone mentioned to me that instead of cooking the cabbage leaves, they freeze the whole head of cored out cabbage, then thaw it when ready to make cabbage rolls. I have yet to test this one out.

Angel Wings (Khrusty)- Recipe

angel-wings-khrusty1Angel Wings, known as, Khrusty, or Chrusciki, are a very popular and dainty dessert specialty found in Polish bakeries, European specialty stores, and even some grocery stores. They are very light and airy, and quite simple to make.  My granddaughter already loves these, so I make sure these are on hand when she is visiting.  This recipe makes 24-30 pieces.

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbs. white vinegar (see TIP below)
  • 1 Tbs. sour cream
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together to form dough smooth enough to roll out.
  2. Place your dough on a floured board, or counter top.
  3. Use a rolling pin and roll out the dough very thin, 1/8 inch thick or slightly thinner.
  4. Use pizza cutter, and cut 1 inch wide slices, then cut these into 3 inches long pieces.
  5. Make a lengthwise slid in the middle of each of the 1 x 3 inch pieces, leaving at least ¼ inch from each end.
  6. Pull one end through the slid, to form a twist.
  7. Fill a frying pan with canola oil, about 2 inches deep.
  8. Heat the oil to about 200 degrees (to test the oil, drop in one piece of dough, and if it starts to sizzle, the oil is ready).
  9. Place your angel wings in the hot oil, as many as you can fit without crowding them.
  10. Fry for one minute on one side.
  11. Turn them over (I use a fork), and fry on the other side for another minute.
  12. Using tongs, remove golden fried angel wings onto a platter lined with paper towel, to absorb any excess oil.
  13. Cool them completely.
  14. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar on both sides.

angel-wings-in-a-frying-pan-khrusty1

angel-wings-khrusty21

angel-wings-khrusty-drying-off-on-paper-towel2

Angel Wings are an excellent accompaniment to a nice cup of your favorite tea.

Tip: I use 1 tsp. of vinegar and 1 tsp. of Rectified Spirit (95% alcohol).  The
alcohol evaporates during frying, but makes the dough very ligh
t.

Suburbs or Cities – Love Them Or Leave Them

Recently I read an article, Suburbia R.I.P, written by Michael Cannell, leaving me with a feeling that living in the suburbs is a dying dream….” In the wake of the foreclosure crisis many new subdivisions are left half built and more established suburbs face abandonment”.  There might be some truth to his statement, since the downturn of our economy affects everyone, including the suburbs.  The new home construction did slow down considerably, but I have yet to see “half built” abandoned subdivisions, or totally abandoned suburbs.

Suburbia took on a different look these days, in comparison to what it was like 50 or more years ago.  The square footage of new homes is ever increasing, so is the demand for large lots, multi-car garages, private outdoor heated pools, tennis courts, central air conditioning, etc.  Many homes in the suburbs are built now in clusters, gated communities, or developments, run by associations, giving them a very neat and uniform appearance.  These developments are usually located within 5-10 miles from shopping centers, restaurants, hospitals, and other commercial centers, not exactly located somewhere in deserted areas, away from civilization.

Michael also states that homes constructed today do not measure up, quality wise, to homes built year ago…”the 1930s homes held up because they were made with solid materials, and today’s spec homes are all hollow doors, plastic columns and faux stone facades”, here again I only partially agree with his analysis.  Consumers have several choices today in constructing a home they can afford, thus some choose modular (precision-built) homes, which cosmetically look very nice, but does lack the quality of the traditional home.  But then again, one still can have a newly constructed traditional home which supersedes the 1930’s homes, because the new homes are star energy efficient, include environmentally safer materials (such as no asbestos or led paint), are well insulated, have double or triple pane windows, thus saving on energy usage, and still may include hard wood floors, ceramic tile, granite countertops, hot tubs, brick or stone exterior, etc.

Of course one expects to have a higher energy bill living in the suburbs in a 3200+ sq.ft. home, in comparison to 450+ sq. ft. flat in the city…. luxury costs money.  However at the same time, the purchase price of the same flat in the city could cost you as much as the home in the suburbs, so it’s all relevant.  Also, rent in the city could equal the mortgage payment of the suburbs’ home.  In the suburbs every licensed member of the family usually owns a car, but in the city majority of the population depends on public transportation, due to high maintenance cost of owning a car (limited space, high insurance rates  and parking fees).

I personally experienced life in the city and the suburbs, and I still prefer the suburbs to live in  and raise a family.  I love to visit cities, since there is so much to see and enjoy, but the suburb’s fresh air, the abundance of nature, the tranquility, the close knit neighborhoods, are my favorite attractions of these areas.  The privacy and luxury of having y0ur own yard to play with your children or grandchildren. To be able to have a flower patch or a garden, to cultivate your own organic fruits and vegetables, relax on the patio and watch the sunrise and sunset.  Wake up to the sound of singing birds, rather than a siren of a fire truck, or a police car.  I also love the beauty of the seasonal changes of nature, especially during spring and fall, which is so much more noticeable  in the suburbs.

I strongly believe that the suburbs will survive the current economic downfall and continue to flourish and attract the urban population to move into them.

I would love to hear your stories and opinions on this subject, whether you live in a city or suburb.  What is your opinion on Michael’s theory.

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