Thursday, April 25, 2013

April Third Sunday Dinner Report

     Third Sunday Dinners I have to say are Wonderful.  But saying that I have to confess that it is not always easy.   Sometimes I am just beat and this Sunday was one of those days. To much going on.  I bring this up to prove a point. Often in life we avoid doing hard things because we are tired or busy or just plain don't want the fuss. I have learned over the years and especially since we started doing Third Sunday Dinners, over 4 years of Third Sunday Dinners, that it is not always easy, but always without fail, the joy that comes from serving out weighs the time, effort, money, spent doing it. No matter how tired I am or what is going on after the event I am filled with joy for having opened up my home and allowed friends and family and strangers to gather for a few hours to fellowship and build relationships.   

     This Sunday was no different.  I was beat from events in the week and preparation for a week of teaching in Utah. By the end of the evening I was tired and discouraged thinking all that I needed to do.  But the joy filled my heart as I thought about all that had happened that day. And I look forward to next month. I can hardly wait to see what we will be eating and who will show up and what I will learn and what my family will learn from Third Sunday Dinner.  

     This dish was the hit of the day. Stir fried brown rice with cashews and coconut oil.  Topped with yogurt and fruit. I served almost 5 gallons of cooked rice. I have to admit I had to force them to try it, but after they tried it they loved it.
Thats a lot of sliced zucchini .

This is caramelized onions and green beans.  It was great.  

Fresh sliced water melon is always a great things to serve.

Preparing to fry the zucchini  And of course I used whole grain Wonderflour to coat the zucchini.

Let it fry.

Justin is filling up the Ginger Lemonade and water coolers.

Stir Fry Rice.  Brown rice and coconut oil with cashews. 


The Finished Product. My daughter, Mauren takes photos and so she always wants a place in the beginning to take of picture of . I think it is her way of eating first.  But the pictures are great.  Green beans, rice with yogurt and fruit, watermelon, and tofu. Yes I said tofu. It was actually really good.   If you do it right, tofu can be great. I had to stand over the buffet and make everyone try it. And almost everyone loved it,  a few could not make it work,  but I was pleased that at least they would try it.

         I love the happy faces as they line up to fill up the plates. It brings joy to my heart to feed people.

        This is my dearest friend Mike McCary. I love his family.  They have been a constant at Third Sunday Dinner. In fact that is how I got to meet them when they moved into the neighborhood. I invited them to dinner and it has been a wonderful relationship ever since. It is not Third Sunday Dinner without him and his family.  He is a big game guide in Alaska every year and we have eaten some pretty amazing things that he brings home and shares at Third Sunday Dinner,  Moose meat was a huge success and no one will ever forget the bear tacos and sausage.  It is always exciting to see what he will bring home each year.

The Spread,  So much good food in one place.  

My favorite part is the youth that come and enjoy the food and each other. We also love the Mormon Missionaries. And they love Third Sunday Dinners.

See you next time.  Wanda alway brings amazing things. 

The end,  putting up the chairs.  We have a chair and table shed.  Comes in handy,

 I love these two boys, Justin and Justin.  They come early every month and help me cook and prepare.
And they are amazing.  Little Justin wants to be a Chef and my assistant.  He really has a talent.

So once again we finish with another amazing Third Sunday Dinner.  You may ask why I blog about Third Sunday Dinner,  simple,  I want to encourage you to open your home and hearts to others.  I have found that we all are in great need of each other.  We need time to fellowship and build relationships in a casual setting and of course I think food it the perfect casual setting for such a thing.  When we open our homes and hearts to others our life take on new meaning and we learn so much about who we are and just how important others are to us. WE NEED EACH OTHER.  For me that is what Third Sunday Dinner is all about.  Until next time. Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy

Friday, April 19, 2013

Time Again for Third Sunday Dinner, April

I love "Third Sunday Dinner"

No matter what we serve, it is always fun. 
     At our home the calendar is all about "Third Sunday Dinner". Right after the one ends, we start thinking about the next one. At least I start thinking about it. I don't do much about it until the week of "Third Sunday Dinner". And then I start planning what I am going to serve.

     I am excited about this Sunday. The weather is great and I love outside parties. My garden is looking great,  flowers in bloom and it feels like spring.

     This Sunday I am kind of feeling like fresh, outdoors food. I have a lot of fresh zucchini.  and a huge bucket of cooked brown rice. So I am thinking of maybe deep fried zucchini with a wonderful chipotle ranch sauce. Not the bottled dressing, but fresh homemade ranch with buttermilk and yogurt. I also have tons of green beans,  I can sauté them up and do a wonderful green bean salad with a nice balsamic dressing. Fresh mint water to drink. Not much prep to do this time,  just cut the vegetables, make the dressing, and I will be ready.

And the weather is perfect for outside still.
  It's is going to be fun. We might get one more "Third Sunday Dinner" outside before it gets to hot. When that happens we just get very close in the house and eat cool foods. No baking, no frying, just nice cool foods, like salads, fruit, and things that require no cooking. Easy and fun.

     Just a thought about "Third Sunday Dinner" and any food events we do. It is not alway the right time. Like this weekend,  I will be getting up at 3 am Monday morning to hit the road for a trip to Utah. I will be teaching up there for a week plus. I have learned that anytime we do food and gather it can be difficult. But I always look at the end result, not the effort or time commitment required to do any type of gathering. It is always worth the effort. Always worth the time, Always worth what ever the cost. Bringing people together to strengthen relationships is always worth it.

If the house if to full, the patio is perfect.  
   The point is, no need to worry, just enjoy the event. Just enjoy the people you invite and enjoy the blessings of being able to have people in your home.

    Life is great,  especially when it is filled with "Third Sunday Dinner" type events in our lives.

    Next week I will post what really happened, because as you know sometimes the things we plan don't always go as planned.

Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I have a DREAM

Kamut Caesar Salad 

Chicken Salad Sandwich with Grain Salad 
         Have you ever had a really big dream and it came true twice and ended twice but the dream is still there. That's my story.  It seems like I was born a dreamer. My wife claims that I walk around the world with emerald city glasses on. I guess I do.  I am a dreamer, what can I say.
        I grew up in the Restaurant business. I started as a bus boy in a local coffee shop at the wonderful age of 12. It was hard work and the owner was a tough old lady who everyone called Grandma and her kind husband everyone called Grandpa. Those were great years and I  would not trade one moment of the lessons I learned working there.  

Blue Cheese Pasta Salad
      I learned a lot about food at a young age.  Food back then was different then food today.  It was better quality. Most of the food in the coffee shop was made from scratch. They actually had a chef on hand to work the cafe and steak house. He was amazing. He knew how to cook, that's for sure. From his sweet  rolls to salad dressing, his stuff was great. My whole world opened up working there.
Classy Croissant Sandwich, filled with a red quinoa grape salad.
      From the coffee shop I advanced to the Steak House across the street  There again the food was amazing. Best Prime Rib ever, and my mouth waters when I think of the Monte Cristo Sandwich.  I worked as busboy, dishwasher, and helped out in the kitchen. Cleaned up after drunks in the bar and helped out in the hotel. At a young age I was made a waiter and they carried my cocktails for me. I loved being a waiter, and I have to admit I was a really great one. The cafe business got in my blood at an early age. In fact I think it was passed down in the DNA. My grandpa was a cafe owner, way before my time, and my grandmother worked in cafes, another story, another day. My mom worked as a waitress in the same place I worked. Talk about a hard task master. She was one tough cookie to bus tables for. I learned how to work hard.
My number 1 selling salad.  Chicken Mango Grain Salad

My children's Favorite the Hot Ciabatta. 
 So my love for food started early and I had a great foundation to my love of cafe's. It was a great time.

     I think that was when the dreaming started.  The dream of owning my own cafe. I still dream about it.

    I have had the experience twice and loved every moment of it.  But the sad part is both times had to end. One was kinda my fault. I got in over my head. The second one was not my fault, the Land lord got in over her head. I showed up one day to work and there was a lock down. Lost everything in a day.

But still I dream. I think it is because now more than ever as I see the need for a cafe that serves really good food, and food that is healthy. I miss my food, I miss feeding people. I miss the smell of the kitchen. I miss the rush of being buried. I miss the stress of the day. I miss the look of happiness on peoples faces when they are eating my food. I just miss it.

The Muffaletta  
     I guess once it gets in your blood there is no way out. Probably one of the reasons I feed people at home it to fill the void of not being in a cafe.

    My wife thinks I am crazy to want the head ache, but it is in the blood, what can I say.
Whole Grain Meatball Sandwich

Stuffed Melon
     So I will keep on dreaming.  And with me the dreams just keep getting bigger and bigger.  I don't just want a cafe next time, I want a cafe with a "real" whole grain bakery.  I want a cafe with a beautiful deli that prepares really wonderful and for real healthy food for people to take home.

     It would be nice to have a teaching room to offer classes and a small grain store to supply the grains that people cannot find.

     See I dream big. And somehow one day the dream will come true. Most of my dreams have come true. What would life be like with out dreamers? I think totally boring. In fact dreamers are what make the world go around.
Sweet Success Strawberry Red Quinoa Feta Salad
     Thanks for sharing a moment with me as I shared my dream with you. When it happens please come and enjoy my food.
Happy Dreaming,  Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy

PS. The pictures are from food I served in my cafe when it was open.  I hope your mouth waters.
Whole Wheat Turkey Sandwich

Monday, April 15, 2013

Stuffed Pancakes, A New Way to Make Pancakes

Stuffed PanCakes   They are as good as they look.

  I adore pancakes. Not the white flour horrible tasteless ones, but fresh ground whole grain pancakes, those rock my world. I Really could eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is endless what you can do with a good pancake and some fresh ground grains. This recipes is amazing. You can make them up and place them in the Freezer before baking and then it is just a simple thing to remove them from the freezer and bake them fresh.   

       Pancakes done right are an amazing breakfast food. Filled with fiber and protein. It is usually the butter and syrup that can bring down a healthy pancake. My family loves Xagave on pancakes.  Sometimes I add few drops of maple extract to the Xagave to add more flavor, but I personally prefer just Xagave on my pancakes and waffles. For the butter we have gone to using extra virgin coconut oil.  We just spread it on the pancakes. It's wonderful and we are getting the good fat we need. 

Cook it until it starts to bubble and dry out a little
Make sure the griddle is not to hot.
Pour the batter onto the griddle.
     So whip out the grinder and start your day out right with whole grain stuffed pancakes. It really can be a great way to start the day.                          
Stuffed Pan Cakes

For the Batter
3 Teaspoons instant yeast
2 eggs
         2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup Xagave
3 1/2 cups fresh ground flour, spelt, brown rice, and barley
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups water

Place all ingredients in mixer bowl and mix well for 3 minutes.  Batter should be thinner than a regular pancake.  If to thick add a little more milk.  It may need more depending on the type of flour used. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.  To make, preheat griddle on high.  Brush or spray with a non stick oil.  Ladle enough batter onto griddle, about 1/3 cup, to create 5 to 6 inch pancake.  Cook on one side only for about 2 minutes, or until top is almost dry.  Remove from griddle and fill with filling.  Fold over and gently crimp edges with fingers.  Place on cookie sheet and continue to make until batter is finished.  Brush with butter and bake for 5 to 7 minutes in a hot 350 degree oven.  

Place on flat surface and fill with fruit or...

Or nuts or what ever you want.

Fold over and crimp the edge.

Folded over and crimped pancake, but don't eat yet.

Place on baking sheet and bake in oven.

Baked to perfection,  topped with Xagave and butter.
This one is filled with a nut filling.

     Just an extra tip on baking these pancakes.  If the batter is to thin just add a little more flour. If the batter is to thick add a dash more water or milk. For filling add anything you want. Pie filling is great.  I like to use nuts and fruit in mine, I have also used lemon curd and apple pie or berry filling. Less is best when stuffing them. Baking just makes them better. So enjoy these amazing pancakes. Let me know how you do.  Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sugar, Toxic Poison or Not

       Sugar is the big controversy of our generation. And sugar substitutes are even a bigger controversy. We are bombarded with ads telling us that this one or that one is better than sugar, no fat, zero calories, great taste, and guilt free. No wonder we are confused. No wonder most America's are lost and misdirected in taking care of the sugar addiction.

     The amount of sugar we eat is horrifying, and even scarier is the rapidly rising amount of sugar subsitutes. Americans are choosing what they think is a better choice. And cancer and obesity is on the rise as never before.

     Wake up America. The sugars substitutes you are using just might be killing you!

     Splenda, equal, and sweet n low are poison to our bodies.
They actually do just the opposite of what we are wanting to happen. They can cause weight gain and there are countless other side effects from using sugar substitutes.

     I am convinced that sugar with all it's problems is still a better choice compared to what the substitutes do to us.

 From beverages to foods, sugar substitutes are in almost all the processed foods we consume. They have hidden names in the ingredients list to deceive us into thinking it is a healthy option.

      Beverages are one of the biggest culprits of the sugar substitute problem. So many of them are labeled fat free, sugar free, and good for you. There is tons of research regarding how they are actually worse for you than drinking the ones loaded in sugar. I personally try to avoid commercial beverages, and at all cost the sugar free or diet ones. If you are going to drink a soda, drink the real thing. The sugar might be bad for you, but not as bad as the ones filled with sugar substitutes.                                

  High Fructose Corn Syrup comes from corn and most of the corn is GMO and it is highly concentrated sugar. Not a good choice for the body.

      We celebrate life with sweet things, from cakes to cookies, from chocolates to beverages, we have made sugar an important part of our lives. We love the flavor and how it makes us feel. We adore the foods prepared with sugar and love to eat the foods prepared with sugar. I am not opposed to sugar,  I have to admit I love it. But as in all things we need to use wisdom and moderation.

     The good news is there are some great choices out there. There are some wonderful natural sugar replacements. Notice I use the word replacement instead of substitute. A sugar replacement is something that is natural that can replace the refined sugar we use in our diets.

     Maple Syrup,  pure maple syrup  that is, can be a great replacement.  Good quality is important. A good quality maple syrup is great..

  • Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese, which plays an important role in energy production and antioxidant defenses, and is necessary for normal brain and nerve function. A portion of ¼ cup of maple syrup contains 100% of the Daily Value of manganese.
  • The sweetener provides 37% of the Daily Value of riboflavin, which aids in the metabolic process.
  • Pure maple syrup also contains 18% of the recommended Daily Value of zinc, which is essential for a healthy immune system.
  • Other minerals found in maple syrup are magnesium, calcium and potassium, decreasing the risk of hypertension or stroke.

     Honey is a great replacement also. You have to be careful in buying honey,  the FDA allows honey distributors to add up to 25% high fructose corn syrup to honey with out putting that on the label. Buy from a good source and buy local. Local honey has nutrients that are good for you if you live in the area.

Composed primarily of fructose, glucose and water, honey also contains small amounts of a wide array of vitamins and minerals, including niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. 

      I love stevia,  it is a great replacement for sugar,  It has come along way. I remember the first few years of stevia. Horrible after taste and it was hard to use. I love the Sweet Leaf Stevia Company and The Stevia in the Raw Company.  I have used them and love the results. Stevia in the Raw has a bulk sugar replacement that is really great. It works for a lot of baked goods, but not all. I love stevia in beverages and syrups. It is great for smoothies and lots of things were we want sweet, but not the sugar.  

     I love the drops of Sweet Leaf,  they come in a variety of flavors.  It is my beverage of choice.  When I need something to drink that is sweet, I use the drops. They are amazing. If I want a soda I use S.Pellegrino and the drops.  Stevia is calorie free and fat free and actually has health benefits for the body.

     Molasses is a great replacement also.  It has great flavor and lots of nutritional value.

A specific variety of molasses called blackstrap offers more nutrition than other types. In 2 tsp., you get about 12 percent of your recommended daily allowance of calcium and 13 percent of the daily recommended allowance of iron, according to the website The World's Healthiest Foods. Two tsp. of blackstrap molasses also provide 7 percent of the trace mineral magnesium and 18 percent of your manganese needs daily. Blackstrap provides about 10 percent of your potassium requirements. Blackstrap is darker than other versions and imparts a distinct flavor into foods.

My all time favorite Sugar  replacement is Xagave.  Related to agave, but don't be fooled, this one is the best one yet.  It is all natural and oh so wonderful.  You have to be careful with agave. Again the FDA allows producers of agave to add large amounts of high fructose corn syrup to the product with out having it on the label.  This company  Xagave is an amazing product, they don't add high fructose corn syrup. I love using it in baked goods and beverages.  It works in almost all things I have tired it in. It is low on the glycemic index and is a great choice for diabetics. I have used it in my weight lose healthy diet and fitness program with great success.  I love it when we find a product that really works and taste great.  This is my all time favorite product to use for a sugar replacement.

   Sugar is an important part of our lives. It is in everything almost impossible to get it our of our diets.  And I don't want it to go.  I love sweet. I love foods that are sweet,  I love how a little bit of sweetness can enhance the flavor is foods and bring out all the natural sweetness.

     But I have to say we need to be smarter about the sugars we use. We need to wake up and start using moderation with sugar and find the things that really work for our bodies. Each of us handle sugar different and the most important thing is to find out what works for you and be wise about that choice.  Do your research and remember what we take into our bodies is so important to being healthy and active all our lives.   Have a sweet day.  Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy