Cooking by the Seat of My Pants

Gene and I peeled, cut and froze almost a bushel of Asian pears today. Whew, that was a big job, especially on a not yet healthy heal! We still plan to make pear fruit leather later on this week so we are not quite done with the pears yet.

Group of Asian pears

If you are not familiar with Asian pears heir texture is very similar to that of apples, Asian pears closely resemble other pear varieties in their nutritional profile. These fruits are high in fiber, low in calories and contain a number of micronutrients that are important for blood, bone and cardiovascular health. Although delicious on their own, the light sweetness and crispy texture of Asian pears makes them a unique addition to any salad or stir fry.

Never thought to pair Asian pear with the sharp, nutty Gouda, but it was a perfect marriage. Sweet, juicy, nutty, gooey. YUMmm…

Asian Pear Toasted Cheese Gouda Sandwich:

1 tbsp butter (softened)

2 slices rye bread or your favorite type

2 ozs cheese (thinly sliced Gouda)

5 slices Asian pears (1/8 inch thick slices)

How To Make:

Heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, spread half of the butter on one side of each slice of bread.

Once the pan is warm, add 1 slice of bread, buttered side down, then top with half of the cheese, all of the pear slices, and finally the remaining cheese. Close with the second slice of bread, buttered side up.

Cook until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted, about 6 minutes per side. Serve with some fresh fruit or a green salad.

Asia pear on toased cheese sandwich

I am really quite pleased with our picking and processing efforts this season. We have frozen fruit in each of our three freezers for the upcoming winter, This fruit included; strawberries, black raspberries, peaches, pears and very soon apples. And of course we have our bushel of tomatoes and many Food Saver bags of corn to add to that list.

My goal is to always find and eat the highest quality, freshest foods I possibly can and I aim for organic and GMO free foods too whenever possible. I believe that their is a distinct and important relationship between food and health. We are not sustainable enough to grow our own fruit yet, it is still gratifying to pick fruit fresh from our neighboring orchardists here in the SW Michigan fruit belt and put it up for eating throughout the year.

After the pears were done, I made a huge crock pot of homemade chicken vegetable and rice soup. This soup will go as my contribution to a potluck on Saturday for a permaculture workshop Gene and I are attending in Kalamazoo. I’ll write more about that event after Saturday. We will also freeze some of the soup in smaller batches for cool weather eating.

Cast Iron pan with rice USE

Wild rice casserole in a cast iron pot to begin and then cooked in the oven.

One of my readers asked me recently for my backed Amish chicken recipe from yesterday’s blog post. I was so busy cooking I did not get any photographs taken. I did that again today, darn it. I explained to her that I started with an Amish chicken and went from there. This is the kind of cook I am; take what I have on hand in the freezer and fridge, in the garden and go by the seat of my pants and create food. This photo is from an Amish chicken I baked a while back but you will get the idea.

Actually, now that I think it through, I am actually a highly organized meal planner. I write out our week’s menu, shop on Monday’s for the food I need foe this week and then cook a big meal that can last a couple of days. But sometime I am busy, or too tired to cook what is planned so then I just wing it. I think all cooks do this from time to time, right?

Gene and I eat our big meal at noon and at night we eat light or sometimes not at all. I try to always have food in the fridge for Gene as he can out eat a teenage boy and I prefer that he eat something other than salsa and chips, or jelly on toast which is what he would grab for if nothing else was prepared. Cooking from-scratch, nutritious food three times a day means he will get enough protein and  vegetables no matter what he eats. Aren’t I a good wife?

Planned or unplanned I like to make a meal that I know I can turn into several different dishes. This is what I did with the Amish chicken. When I shopped for groceries this past Monday I spotted an Amish chicken on sale for 20% off. That usually means the “use by date” is rapidly approaching so I knew that I would be cooking it soon and that I would be planning my meal around that chicken this week.

This is what I did….

Tuesday we ate a baked chicken that I roasted in my old granite roasting pan that was filled with onions, cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, kale, spinach and corn that I froze earlier in the season.

You see I knew I was going to make soup on Wednesday and I figured that I’d just cook the vegetables up ahead of time in the same heat of the oven. I set aside the majority of the chicken meat for a planned meal later on this week when my adult son is visiting.

Then today, Wednesday, I got up early and boiled the soup bones and the legs and thighs. After they cooled off, I took off the meat and added that to the chicken soup vegetables that I already put in the crock pot. I used a quart jar of the chicken bone broth in the soup pot and froze another 2 quarts in the deep freeze for later time. I added lots of garlic (we love garlic!) basil, rosemary, bay leaves, black pepper and fennel seeds. This simmered until noon when I served it with toasted and buttered sprouted Ezekiel Bread.

On the day when my son comes for lunch, I am planning on making my favorite fresh herbal and WARM flat bread rounds and will put out the cold chicken, avocados, tomatoes along with sautéed onions, kale and green beans and chard. My son does not eat a lot of meat due to his gout so I will also have humus on the counter, carrots and a large tossed salad and everyone can make your own sandwich using what vegetable they prefer, a tossed salad and I’ll offer my homemade chicken soup for those who want that as well. A DYI soup and salad lunch will fill my son up with nutrition and tasty food before he drives on to Chicago and catch his plane for his home in Portland, Oregon.

I’ve blogged about this delicious Ranch Flatbread recipe previously but I think it is so outstanding that I’ll print it again here. Gene is lactose intolerant, so I substitute vegan sour cream for the Greek yogurt but you can make it anyway you like.

Ranch Flatbread

(Originally from Country Gardens magazine, Fall 2015)


2 ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp. ground dehydrated chives

1 Tbsp. ground dehydrated onion

1 Tbsp. ground dehydrated garlic

½ tsp. ground dehydrated dill

2 ½ cups of self-rising flour/Sir Arthur’s Whole Wheat

Olive oil for cooking

  1. In a large bowl stir together yogurt, salt, chives, garlic and dill.
  2. Add flour , stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough forms, adding more flour as needed
  3. Transfer to a floured surface (I used a marble cutting board.)
  4. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing for 10-12 strokes or until dough is smooth.
  5. Divide dough into eight balls (about 3 inches wide.)
  6. Cover dough and let stand for 20 minutes.
  7. Using your hands pat the dough out into a flat pita bread shape.
  8. Heat a 12”cast iron skillet over medium heat, brushing on olive oil on the pan’s surface.
  9. Add a flat bread round and cook one to two minutes or until puffed and brown, turning once.
  10. It helps to press with a spatula after flipping this encourages it to puff with steam.
  11. Repeat with remaining rounds.
  12. Serve warm.

These are so delicious fresh and warm and I just love them. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Small House Homesteader, Donna