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.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy ending for countless tomatoes--Mexican Tomato Soup

Tomatoes line my window ledge, my kitchen island, the shelves of my refrigerator. A banner tomato year . . . I’m seeking to find happy endings for all them.

I couldn’t have picked a better place for some of these tomatoes to land than Mexican Tomato Soup. To begin with, the recipe calls low-sodium tomato juice. No-brainer. Boil a bunch of these red jewels, season, and strain. Tomato juice at the ready (the exact tomato juice recipe is found in my cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden). Then it asks for a couple of extra tomatoes, cored and halved and added to a chicken-broth-and-tomato-juice base. A couple extra tomatoes (how about a couple hundred extra ones?) are no problem.

Some spices, green onions, lime juice, a little boiling and simmering. Add some deboned chicken strips. Not many minutes later (just long enough for the chicken bits to cook), a tangy soup dish awaits. The recipe also calls for making your own tortilla chips out of leftover tortillas. A great way to use up some that hang around in the refrigerator. Chunks of cheese and avocado are hearty additions.

Hubby and I enjoyed this dish on a Saturday night. Since Saturday is approaching again, I commend this to your weekend.

Mexican Tomato Soup

6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 medium tomatoes, cored and halved
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 (32-ounce) container reduced-sodium fat-free chicken broth
2 cups low-sodium tomato juice
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 1/2 pound skinned and boned chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
4 green onions (white part only), thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup crumbled fresh Mexican cheese
1 medium avocado, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush 1 side of tortillas with 1 tablespoon oil; cut tortillas in half. Stack tortilla halves and cut crosswise into 14-inch-wide strips. Arrange strips in a single layer of a lightly greased baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Stir halfway through. Cool. Meanwhile heat a nonstick skillet over high heat 2 minutes. Add tomato halves and cook (turn occasionally) 10 minutes, or until tomatoes are charred on all sides. (Tomatoes may stick.) Transfer to a food processor. Sauté onion in remaining 1 tablespoon hot oil in skillet over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until fragrant. Transfer onion mixture to food processor with tomatoes; process until smooth. Cook tomato mixture in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in broth and tomato juice. Add bay leaf and next 3 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Add chicken; simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes or until chicken is done. Discard bay leaf. Stir in green onions and next 2 ingredients. Season with salt (or salt substitute) and pepper. Divide Mexican cheese among 4 to 6 soup bowls; top with tortilla strips. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with avocado. Makes 4 to 6 servings. (Source: Southern Living July 2012)

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