Monday, September 13, 2010

Bleenies (Potato Cakes) and Blinis and Latkes, Oh My!

Ok, so I got a request the other day for good Bleenies. Now, you need to be educated about the difference between bleenies and blinis. They are not the same critter at all. And Jewish latkes is a close cousin to a bleenie. Blinis are Russian in origin and traditionally a flour type of pancake. Bleenies are a potato pancake, and centric to the Coal Region of Northeastern PA. The best are the greasiest at all the church picnic and block parties every summer (or so it seems). I am not giving out recipes here for Blinis.

For Bleenies and Latkes, you are in luck. And a finer food God did not create. It is manna from heaven for sure.


I fill up my 11 cup food processor with grated potatoes and about 2 onions grated medium. I put that in a big bowel, add a couple of beaten eggs, salt, pepper, chive and garlic, and then a few (around 4)  tbs. of flour as a binder. You want the mixture just thick enough to not be runny. I then have a heated fry pan with a little olive oil, and I put dollops in the fry pan, flatten them out and fry until it is golden brown on medium heat, flip, finish frying and then put on plates with paper towels on them. I serve them with a side of sour cream and chives. There is also a nice variation to use with zucchini. Half drained shredded zucchini/half shredded potato, do the rest the same. Delicious! These are a little more mild and sweet.


Bleenies should have more onion in them, and be finer shredded, unlike the latkes which is coarser and has lees onion. One variation on these is that some will used mashed potatoes with the finely shredded to get a real cake. That is up to you, I find them to get too dense and realllyyy greasy.

4 potatoes (grate on fine grater)

2 eggs

1 onion (grated with the potatoes)

2 or 3 tbsp. flour

Cooking oil

Mix all ingredients. Spoon mixture into the hot oil (do put too much oil in the pan; just enough to cover the bleenies as they fry). When they are lightly browned on one side, gently turn bleenies to fry the other side. Serve with salt or vinegar. Good with sour cream or pork & beans.

Hint: Drain potatoes thru a colander to make a much firmer bleenie.

The Garden Starts Yielding

It's been a busy month for sure. It was so dry and hot that many crops suffered greatly until we started getting rain last week. WE had been irrigating the garden from the spring so that was OK. We've had our first peas from the garden, and the lima pods are filing up and sweet corn is tasseling out. Mike's mom has some first tomatoes on and tons of zucchini. I love this time of year.

I made a Montreal seasoned pork roast tonight with roasted new carrots and zucchini/red potato latkes. These were excellent and a little more mild and sweeter than lain potato latkes. I mean really, what can't you make zucchini with?

Tomorrow I am going to do a stuffed eggplant.

I wanted to share a neat article from today:

Local food trend helps more folks eat fresh fruits, veggies

and a mention of a great new book.  I am a huge proponent of eating local and organic. Support your local growers.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Oh, What To Do With All Those Tomatoes!

Yup, the tomatoes are on, and celebrating their goodness is always fun. From BLT's to sauces and salsas and pasta dishes and stuffed tomatoes and tomato salad.....well you get the idea So here are some of our favorites.

Our nephew requested his favorite dish which I've been making a least 25 years. I can't remember where I saw the original, but I've made it my own over the years anyway.


As a healthy option, I use whole wheat spaghetti.

1lb spaghetti, cooked al dente


2-3 l sweet onions, sliced thin and sauteed golden in a little olive oil over medium heat. Deglaze with a cup of a dryer white wine, then add a splash of lemon juice, about 6 tomatoes pureed and a 2 or so diced tomatoes Simmer, adding garlic, parsley, basil and oregano. Serve over top of cooked pasta. Fabulous low fat healthy dish to die for with all fresh ingredients. Some garlic bred on the side finishes it of nicely.


I do not use cilantro in my salsa. Mine is made using my 11 C food processor and it makes a nice batch.

Ratio of tomatoes to peppers/onion is 2 :1. So I fill my processor about 2/3 with seeded tomatoes diced, and then add green, red and hot peppers and onion the rest of the way. Add fresh lemon, around 2, 1/2 to 3/4 C white vinegar, and 1-2 TBS cumin. Process to chunkiness desired. I then freeze mine in quart bags, but you could also cook it down a little and hot pack into jars for later as well. Freezing is just so much faster and I like the raw veggie taste to the salsa.


This was always a farm favorite here. Take meaty tomatoes like romas, seed and quarter into wedges. Ratio of 2:1 tomatoes to onions. Add thinly sliced onions. I then make up a dressing of miracle whip and sour cream (nonfat or lowfat option), 1/2 C each, pepper, nonsalt seasoning, and 2 tbs white vinegar. Whisk well, pour over tomatoes/onions, and toss to coat. Always refreshing and same recipe can be used for fresh cucumber/onion salad too.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Some Links Worth Checking Out

I want to share some links for local things that I like and am a regular customer or fan of. If in the area or even if you aren't some of these are things you have to visit, try, or have shipped.

Right up the road from me is Rohrbach's Farm Market. They host a lot of festivals, from strawberry, peach, corn, etc and have cool things in the fall like their huge corn maze and events. A lot of great baked goods, produce, grass fed beef, canned PA Dutch goods and mixes like from New hope Mill, nice country gift shop, and my favorite? Raw milk. The raw milk is from a local Jersey (cow) dairy and just as sweet and rich as can be with no hormones or other nasty questionable stuff. And, most folks allergic to store milk can drink raw milk just fine because the enzymes have not been broken down.

Here's a nifty site for eating well in the Susquehanna Valley are of Northeastern, PA. It lists your local farm markets and producers. I am also going to start compiling a list of local restaurants that have a varied seasonal and local menu. You can download or send for a free copy.

Speaking of Farm Markets, one of my favorites for its natural grass fed beef and lamb and pork, organic veggies, and even wild Alaskan salmon is Forks Farm Market, also not far from me. Really excellent quality. If you aren't raising your own to the exacting organic standards, then this is next best. After all, farming/homesteading isn’t for everyone.

And The Beat Goes On..........

So, I am way behind blogging here. But wanted to share about the couple things I did do here while still having to work. Really need to figure out how to become independently wealthy.

All summer long here, the area is rich with favorites like peach and corn roast festivals which include a myriad of yummy things like peach dumplings. Also another huge fun thing around here is the church picnics. This being the coal region and edge of the coal region, church picnics are synonymous with great ethnic food and drinking. Yes, the local church picnics provide alcohol and bands along with food and games. It is a great time where many families bring their lawn chairs and blankets and babies to the eldest seniors come out to enjoy the evenings. Sometimes there are even fireworks to grace the end of the night.

So, some recipes are in order to reflect this good time.

HALUSHKI—Noodle Dish

1 lg cabbage head, chopped

2 lg sweet onion or yellow onion, chopped

2 crushed garlic cloves, chopped

bacon grease about 6-8 slices of bacon

1 stick sweet salted butter (add more as needed - 1/2 stick)

12 oz wide egg noodle

salt and pepper

Remove first layer of cabbage only and cut around core, leaving core out of recipe.

Lightly sauté 8 slices of bacon (for the drippings). Remove bacon once done, (do not burn bacon) then sauté onions, garlic and cabbage with bacon drippings with 1 stick butter.

Cook until cabbage has a soft texture. add bacon (this is optional). Add 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt and 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper, add more to taste.

In a separate pot, boil noodles for about 7 minutes (less than al denté).

Once noodles are done, drain and add to cabbage mixture and remove from heat.

PIGEONS or HALUPKIES - Stuffed cabbage rolls (traditional version, another can be made with kraut.)

1 head of cabbage (about 3 lbs)

1 lb ground pork

1 lb ground beef

1 Tbsp salt

1/2 tspn pepper

1 can stewed tomatoes (or substitute Campbell's tomato soup)

3/4 cup uncooked rice

1 onion, chopped

1 Tbsp shortening

Cut cabbage deeply around core to loosen leaves. Boil the cabbage leaves about 5 minutes and set aside to drain. In a skillet, add ground meats, onions, shortening, salt and pepper, and fry slowly for about 15 minutes. Wash rice, drain, add to meat and mix well.

Place a tablespoon of the meat mixture in the center of a cabbage leaf and roll. Place rolls side by side in pot. Pour tomatoes over top and add enough water to cover. Add another tbsp salt and pepper. Cook 1 and 1/2 hours.


1 recipe pastry for double-crust pie (if in a hurry, Pillsbury Pie Crusts work fine) If you need a good pie crust recipe, let me know, I have it!

6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 cups water

2 cups white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch pan.

On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry into a large rectangle, about 24 by 16 inches.

Cut into 6 square pieces.

Place an peach/apple on each pastry square with the cored opening facing upward.

Cut butter into 8 pieces.

Place 1 piece of butter in the opening of each peach/apple; reserve remaining butter for sauce.

Divide brown sugar between peaches/apples, poking some inside each cored opening and the rest around the base of each apple.

Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg over the peaches/apples.

With slightly wet fingertips, bring one corner of pastry square up to the top of the apple, then bring the opposite corner to the top and press together.

Bring up the two remaining corners, and seal.

Slightly pinch the dough at the sides to completely seal in the apple.

Repeat with the remaining apples.

Place in prepared baking dish.

In a saucepan, combine water, white sugar, vanilla extract and reserved butter.

Place over medium heat, and bring to a boil in a large saucepan.

Boil for 5 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved.

Carefully pour over dumplings.

Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Place each peach/apple dumpling in a dessert bowl, and spoon some sauce over the top.