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Strawberry Shortcake Sandwiches

Serves 50 Sandwiches

2 pt fresh strawberries, sliced, sugared*

1 ea 10″x15″ sheet puff pastry, thawed

2 T flour (approx)

1 egg, beaten

1 T water

2-3t sugar (raw, turbinado or granulated) whipped cream, real

Procedure

1. *Sprinkle sliced berries with 3 T sugar, refrigerated 2-4 hrs

2. Unfold puff pastry on floured surface, cut in small (2″x1.5″) rectangles

3. Place on parchment lined baking sheet

4. Combine egg & water, brush on pastry, sprinkle with sugar

5. Bake 15 mins, until puffed & brown, cool

Assemble Sandwiches:

6. Split pastry rectangles in half

7. Top bottom half with 1-2 T berries, dollop whipped cream, pastry top

Simply Fresh Spring

As I sit here on this dreary rainy day, I am dreaming of sunshine and spring menu planning. Fresh strawberries, crisp lettuce & of course asparagus, just to name a few of my spring favorites. Last week at the farmer’s market I saw signs of spring popping up with fresh ripe strawberries for sale (granted, they were from North Carolina, not Virginia, but it is a sign of what is to come). As I have gotten older, I have developed a much greater appreciation for the simplicity of fresh, local food. Additionally, fresh produce is loaded with vitamins & minerals & offers a whole host of health benefits. This recipe will most definitely be prepared in my house after the first sighting of asparagus at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market.

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest & Cheese

Ingredients:

· 1 pound asparagus (skinnier may be better)

· 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

· 1-2 tablespoons finely grated hard cheese, such as 3-year gouda or parmesan

· 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus lemon slices for garnish

· Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Fit a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cut the last inch from each stalk of asparagus and discard. Spread stalks out on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, using a pastry brush to coat each stalk, or simply turning the stalks over with a fork until they are well coated. Sprinkle with cheese and lemon zest, and then season with salt & pepper.

3. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until tops of the asparagus, start to turn crisp and stalks are bright green. They should be tender through. Serve hot, with lemon slices for garnish.

Source: Foraged Dish

Simply Fresh Spring

As I sit here on this dreary rainy day, I am dreaming of sunshine and spring menu planning. Fresh strawberries, crisp lettuce & of course asparagus, just to name a few of my spring favorites. Last week at the farmer’s market I saw signs of spring popping up with fresh ripe strawberries for sale (granted, they were from North Carolina, not Virginia, but it is a sign of what is to come). As I have gotten older, I have developed a much greater appreciation for the simplicity of fresh, local food. Additionally, fresh produce is loaded with vitamins & minerals & offers a whole host of health benefits. This recipe will most definitely be prepared in my house after the first sighting of asparagus at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market.


Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest & Cheese

Ingredients:

· 1 pound asparagus (skinnier may be better)

· 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

· 1-2 tablespoons finely grated hard cheese, such as 3-year gouda or parmesan

· 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus lemon slices for garnish

· Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Fit a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cut the last inch from each stalk of asparagus and discard. Spread stalks out on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, using a pastry brush to coat each stalk, or simply turning the stalks over with a fork until they are well coated. Sprinkle with cheese and lemon zest, and then season with salt & pepper.

3. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until tops of the asparagus, start to turn crisp and stalks are bright green. They should be tender through. Serve hot, with lemon slices for garnish.

Source: Foraged Dish

The R’s in April

In case you missed it as you were scraping the snow off your car, spring officially began over a week ago. But the signs are there, with more every day! Among other things, spring is characterized as a season of renewal, rebirth, refresh, re-imagining. Sometimes that means cleaning up or cleaning out; donating clothes and stuff; planting flowers, fertilizing, pruning.

How do these activities and intentions manifest at work? April tends to look like an episode of Survivor in the MG world. Thinking about anything other than the work at hand is difficult if not laughable. And, yet, as we plow through the busy day-to-day demands and #allthatextracatering, we still have our own spirit to nurture and tend as well as the spirits of our teammates.

“Life is like an echo, what you send out comes back to you.” —Chinese proverb

Miriam’s Tortilla Soup

Miriam’s Tortilla Soup

Serves 8

1 T olive oil

2 ea corn tortillas

½ c ea celery & onion, diced small

1 ½ t fresh garlic, minced

2 ½ c marinara sauce

1 ¼ c canned diced tomatoes, with juice

1 qt vegetable broth

3 T fresh cilantro, chopped

Procedure
Heat oil in saucepan, medium heat. Fry tortillas until crispy, remove. drain well, set aside.

Add celery & onions to pan, sweat 6-8 mins

Add garlic, sweat 1 minute

Add marinara sauce, diced tomatoes & broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, simmer 30-45 minutes

Crush up fried tortilla, add to soup. Simmer 10 minutes

Use immersion or traditional blender, puree until very smooth

Garnish with cilantro

Miriam’s Tortilla Soup

Serves 8
1 T olive oil
2 ea corn tortillas
½ c ea celery & onion, diced small
1 ½ t fresh garlic, minced
2 ½ c marinara sauce
1 ¼ c canned diced tomatoes, with juice
1 qt vegetable broth
3 T fresh cilantro, chopped

Procedure
1. Heat oil in saucepan, medium heat. Fry tortillas until crispy, remove. drain well, set aside.
2. Add celery & onions to pan, sweat 6-8 mins
3. Add garlic, sweat 1 minute
4. Add marinara sauce, diced tomatoes & broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium, simmer 30-45 minutes
5. Crush up fried tortilla, add to soup. Simmer 10 minutes
6. Use immersion or traditional blender, puree until very smooth
7. Garnish with cilantro

All About Weight?

Does weight loss equal improved health? This is one of the questions that a recent article sought to answer by talking to various health experts about weight and health. It’s no secret our sedentary society is predominately overweight & seemingly always on a diet. Yet, only 20 % of people are successful at long -term weight loss. We know that obesity is a series risk to our physical health, yet our tactics to lose weight often backfire, introducing anxiety about foods, body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. What is the ultimate solution? One expert’s common sense recommendation is to take the focus off weight loss and on how to improve our fitness & nutrition, which is a far more achievable long-term goal. Rather than defining our health based on a single scale number, we can make positive lifestyle choices such as being physically active, eating healthy & not smoking.

Check out the full article here:
Why you should stop trying to lose weight

Yoda, Ron Merricks, and other teachers

For almost 24 years, MG has served Chatham Hall and for our entire tenure, we have reported to Ron Merricks…until today. Today, along with many others, we celebrated his last day at Chatham Hall and the start of his retirement. Ron, like Yoda and other philosopher-teachers, is known for his “isms” — incredible wisdom contained in compact sentences. A couple favorites from Ron:

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” (Ron said this a number of times over the years and always as he was explaining why he still chose to do business with MG.)

“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”

And from Yoda:

“Try not. Do, or do not — there is no ‘try.'” Yoda also said, “The greatest teacher, failure is.” In other words, be willing to make mistakes, always learn from the past, let go of old traditions or methods that keep you from growing or seizing new opportunities.

*Picture from Ron Merrick’s retirement party

Pot Roasted Cauliflower Piccata

Serves 8
1 head cauliflower, bottom & leaves removed, head intact
2 T olive oil
¼ t ea s&p
3 T butter
1 T fresh garlic, minced
3 T ap flour
1 ¾ c chicken broth
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T capers, with a little juice

Procedure
1. Place cauliflower in cast iron skillet, drizzle oil, s&p
2. Cover with foil, cook 40-60 minutes, 400° oven
3. Sauté garlic in melted butter, in saucepan
4. Combine oil & flour to make paste, add to pan, cook until golden brown
5. Add chicken broth slowly, add lemon juice & capers, bring to boil, simmer 15-20 min
6. Remove cauliflower from pan, top with sauce

Notes:
– to make gluten free use 1 T arrowroot instead of flour
– sub vegetable broth for vegetarian

Food Messaging.. What does it tell us?

As I was prepping dinner one night, my 5-year-old sauntered by and declared in his most dramatic voice “wow, she lost a lot of weight.” My initial thought was utter cluelessness and then I realized he had caught sight of the Nutrisystem TV commercial showcasing drastic weight loss. Mind you, this is a happy go lucky 5 year old who is generally unaware of the pressures of everyday life, so his comment gave me great pause. This was followed by my 4 year old daughter quoting “bye-bye belly fat” followed by a flurry of giggles. Why did this weight loss commercial catch their attention? I pondered; what are we teaching our youth about their bodies? Already, two young ones, who in reality probably never gave their own body weight much thought, are picking up the messages that fat = bad and skinny = good. Already receiving messages of shame regarding our food choices & body weight. Yet, despite the shame & constant messaging that our life will magically improve with weight loss, we as a nation are still overweight, still depressed & still sedentary. We have turned food into the enemy, putting it in the same category as other addictive substances. The catch is, food is essential for life; we cannot sustain ourselves without it. Yet, we still are unable to make peace with food & stop thinking of food as the one barrier to our life of everlasting skinniness.

The intuitive eating & mindful eating movements have made great strides in changing our toxic relationship with food. However, they don’t offer the quick fix of diets & many people are simply unwilling to put in the long-term effort (i.e. slow results) required for healthy lifestyle weight loss success. Next month’s blog will highlight some of the main principles of these eating movements (notice the absence of diet) and how we can incorporate them into our life.

Lastly, it is useful to remind ourselves, that health isn’t always about weight. An extreme crash diet, may achieve your weight loss goal, but does it accomplish your long-term health goals?
There is obviously a reason diets are advertised over and over, they do not achieve sustainable weight loss. Sustainable being the key word.

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