Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Good health (and skinny-ness, for at least one person) begins in the garden

These days my hubby is a shadow of his former self—high-school skinny once again—and he credits everything to his dining on garden yield.

No pre-packaged diet meals or commercialized weight-loss programs were involved in this major shedding of pounds (33 of them, to be exact.)

He's simply replaced twice-a-week McDonald's large chocolate milkshakes with homemade fruit smoothies made with nonfat yogurt and any kind of fruit he might happen to have in the refrigerator.

He's subbed snacking on cookies with munching on apple slices and carrot sticks.

What's more, he will tell you that he's never eaten so well in all his life nor enjoyed his meals any more robustly.

I agree with him wholeheartedly; in support of his new plan to become svelte, I've lost 20 pounds myself. (When you're a short person, many people presume you don't have weight to shed, but I was quietly accumulating a sizable closet section of pants and dresses that I could no longer wear. I'm proud to say that, now, EVERYTHING fits once again. I couldn't be more thrilled.)

Vanity on my husband's part had no part in bringing on this new look, although I'll be the first to say I think he's truly a "hottie" now that he's all lean and trim. (Resuming jogging for 2 1/2 miles a day and regular gym workouts had a role also.)

A scary bloodtest report last November--particularly in the area of high triglycerides, high cholesterol, and blood-pressure out the roof--made a believer out of him fast. A nutritionist provided by the Chickasaw Nutrition Services reviewed his daily food intake and told him to jettison his vices (such as a dab of coffee served in his sea of French Vanilla creamer, if you know what I mean) or possibly face diabetes in the very near future.

All this happened at the same time I was accumulating recipes for my new book, Way Back in the Country Garden, which features foods prepared from fresh produce--recipes that have been in my family for generations as well as new ones. I was needing to taste-test many of these items, so I began trying them out for our family meals. Most recipes are health-conscious and feature foods that are garden-fresh--those food groupings we're supposed to have 5-to-9 servings of every day. This taste-test need coincided perfectly with his (make that OUR) need to revise our eating habits.

Our meals began including such items as Vegetable Quesadillas (see recipe below), Zesty Penne and Broccoli, Spinach and Mushroom Frittata, Turkey Cabbage Stew, Hot Bacon and Black-Eyed Pea Salad, White Bean Salad with Asparagus, and Zucchini and Tomato Galette, to name a few. Insane as it sounds, we became so enraptured in experimenting with these delicious new dishes that we lost our interest in eating out (well, no woman ever truly turns down an opportunity to dine away from home, but I at least got sidetracked for the cause of healthy food preparation.)

Six months after that horrifying pre-Thanksgiving physical: my husband's bloodwork recently showed massive drops in all the right areas, with his triglycerides impressively down from 229 t0 52! (from higher than high to low normal). Last week his doctor was agog at the lean specimen who appeared at his office--mainly because Hubby actually paid attention to doctor's orders. "Most people don't ever listen to me when I tell them they must lose weight," the physician murmured as he shook his head in surprise.

I wish I could tell you that we always make lemonade out of life's lemons, but this is one crisis that turned into a gift--the gift of good health, plus an extraordinary new recipe collection. I only lament the fact that my new, growing untried recipe collection for foods from the garden has expanded so, I'll probably still be clicking them off many physicals from now.

Vegetable Quesadillas

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large green pepper, cored and chopped
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 fajita-sized flour tortillas (7-inch diameter)
1 1/3 cups shredded pepperjack cheese
2 medium ears corn, steamed and cut from cob, enough to make 1 1/4 cups fresh corn kernels

In a large, nonstick skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add green pepper, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Saute over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until green pepper softens. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat. Place flour tortillas on a flat work surface. Place about 1/3 cup pepperjack cheese over each tortilla. Top each with another tortilla. Wipe out skillet; coat with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Place 1 quesadilla in the skillet. Cook 2 minutes. Gently press down with a spatula. Turn and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes until quesadilla is slightly browned and cheese melts. Remove from skillet. Keep quesadillas warm. Repeat process with remaining quesadillas. To serve heat corn. Cut each quesadilla into wedges and serve with the corn. Serves 4.

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