Sunday, March 9, 2008

No Menu Monday, A Birthday, and a Cookbook of the Week

Our red plum trees are in full bloom this week!

It's nearly here. The big one. It's a milestone birthday for yours truly! Yes. I will be the dreaded 3-0.

The funny thing is I'm actually not dreading it at all. I'm 30 years old and I've earned every gray that is quietly sneaking into my auburn-brown hair (okay...maybe I didn't "earn" all of them!), I have a solid faith and I know who I really am, I am married to the most wonderful man on this earth, we have a home of our own, 4 cats who love us, an incredible family, devoted and loving friends, we are happy and blessed and I am glad to be here! I think "30" is not an end, but a new beginning!

That being said, this week will not have a standard menu. We'll be off work near the end of the week to celebrate my birthday and to have some rare time together at home. We'll probably have sandwiches, a breakfast night, spaghetti, and I have given Michael specific instructions to make me a gluten free chocolate cake (and since the poor guy really doesn't enjoy cooking, I handed him a bag of Pamela's Ultimate Fudge Brownie Mix.... it has a recipe for cake on the side. Hopefully he won't chicken out on me!)


This week's cookbook is another oldie but goodie! When I was little I remember watching Jeff Smith's "The Frugal Gourmet" on PBS with my dad. It was in the years before the Food Network and the availability of cooking shows around the clock on satellite television. We always looked forward to watching the show and hearing Jeff's antics on which cuisine he was preparing for his viewers that week.

Jeff Smith, was not only a retired Methodist minister, but he was an early "healthy living" pioneer, focusing on fresh, healthy meals made with "real" ingredients and whole grains. The Frugal Gourmet also knew the value of a dollar and explained how to make meals on a budget. He would also dedicate several weeks of shows to favorite foods of a specific country. He loved international cuisine and one was of the first American "celebrity chefs" to focus on global foods. He would travel and spent time in local farmer's markets of Italy or France, buying farm fresh produce and cheeses. He loved local wines and vineyards. He was a great chef and I love his cookbooks. My well loved, dog eared copy of "The Frugal Gourmet" (c. 1984) has tons of fabulous recipes and great cooking techniques. Many of these recipes are naturally gluten free. You will also love reading Jeff's informative and funny comments on each recipe! This is an incredibly fun cookbook to read!

I'll share this recipe with you today! I have not made it yet, but I love lamb! If you make this, please share with me how it turned out!

Lamb and Artichoke Stew -- A Greek Recipe
(pg. 200, The Frugal Gourmet c. 1984, ISBN 0-345-33523-6)

"I have just this minute realized that writing cookbooks is much harder for me than I would have ever imagined. It is hard not because I have to explain myself, but because I have to think about these recipes, and it is not even close to lunchtime. This lamb and artichoke stew from Greece cause me particular pain. You must make this! You must! -- Jeff Smith"

4 Tbsp. butter
2 pounds boneless lamb, cubed
3 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
Salt/Pepper, to taste
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 (14 oz.) cans artichokes in brine, drained
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
3 Tbsp. lemon juice


In a very large frying pan met the butter. Add the lamb and saute until lightly browned. Remove the meat. Saute the yellow onions along with the garlic and parsley. Place the meat, onions, garlic, and parsley in a heavy kettle, and add salt, pepper, and the tomato paste, and white wine. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is tender. Add artichokes, dill weed, and lemon juice. Simmer until all is tender about 1 1/2 hours.

Serve over pilaf. Along with the stew over the pilaf serve a nice fruit tray and a large salad. I would start the meal with a pate or terrine.

Have a terrific week!

I'll be posting a lovely banana nut bread recipe in a few days!!

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