The Nearly Meatless Philly Cheese “Steak” Sandwich

Here I go again guys, making stuff that tastes yummy like meat does without the problems. I did use a small amount of Proscuitto, but it could be easily omitted. Without that addition, I would probably add a little Smoked Paprika or Smoked Tofu to add that element back in.

So what we have here is a mackin’ sandwich that I hope you will add to your “make it, and make it often” list of go-to meals. It tastes best with a Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, the beer choice of hipsters and bohemians alike!

It’s super simple, relying on awesome ingredients.

Hen of the Woods Organic Mushrooms sauteed in olive oil with crushed red pepper, red leeks  and a smattering of Proscuitto. Melt some good quality Smoked Gouda on top and slide onto a bakery roll and top with onions from the Porchtime Pickled Eggs from your fridge :), a smear of organic mayo, salt and pepper and you have more than brotherly love! Make sure to warm up the buns in the cast iron pan to get them a tad greasy with olive oil. mmmmmmm.


Comfort Food Cravings

I swear you are all going to think that all I do is fry things! I promise I don’t, it’s just that its so yummy, I’m inspired to write about it.

Remember the Fried Chicken Mushroom post? Well, the other night we had family over to include my super skinny 18 and 20 year old nephews Nick and Ryan and their friend Will, and wow can they eat! I love cooking for people that really love to eat like that.

Here was what I made for them (of course all from scratch)

Chicken Fried Steak Mushrooms

Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom/Buttermilk Gravy

Garden Greens

Broccoli Cheddar Corn Muffins

and for dessert, Meyer Lemon Scented Sponge Cake with Strawberries/Blackberries and Whipped Cream

I knew I wanted to make the chicken fried mushrooms again, but we had decided to make them with the seasoning from Paul Prudhomme’s Chicken Fried Steak recipe. I bought the Organic King Oyster Mushrooms this time and wow! what a great texture. I sliced them lengthwise and marinated them in the buttermilk and the spices as before. The new spice mix was much better, more complex and really gave it that country style taste.

To make the mushroom gravy, I simply used trim from my Oyster mushrooms and a few dried shitakes and simmered them on the back of the stove to make a mushroom stock. After frying the mushrooms, I kept them warm in the oven and used the mushroom stock to deglaze the pan. There was already flour in the little bit of oil from frying the mushrooms, so I just simmered it down and then added a little buttermilk and more of the seasoning. It was great on the potatoes and the “chicken”.

You’ll notice that we had greens, of course! I made them more traditionally than usual with balsamic and a little prosciutto, garlic and some red onion and cooked them down. The meal was rounded out with the corn muffins, which I snuck even more veggies into with a little chopped up broccoli.

you'd think his mother never fed him!

I was very pleased with the cake, because I don’t bake that much and usually feel a little intimidated. I knew I wanted a strawberry shortcake type dish but did not want to buy those gross little ones from the store. The cake was actually really easy and everyone wolfed it down. I also got to use my really nifty whipped cream maker, fun!

Except for the 1/4 cup or so of diced prosciutto, this meal was completely vegetarian. The cake was completely organic, even the whipping cream.

Feeding people I love is such a joy, thanks for coming over guys!

Love Your Mother

She gives and gives and asks for very little in return. She nurtures, teaches, challenges, sustains, reprimands and gives all unconditionally. When you hurt her or all the life she loves, she cries and her heart breaks but she just keeps on giving anyway. Her name? Earth

Paradise Found

I drove around National City this morning around 8 am trying to find the Olivewood Garden and Learning Center. I cursed Google Maps and used my spidey senses to find it, parked my car and then just sat staring.

The first thought that burst into my mind was that of my mother. I couldn’t help but wish she could have lived her life in a place this peaceful and full of the simple beauty and joy that so many of us crave. For you see, I was staring at a stately Victorian home surrounded by what seemed to be acres of every type of flower, fruit and vegetable known to man. It reminded me a perfect farm on Farmville.

Camera in hand and perma-grin spread across my face I began to wander the grounds without even checking in with anyone.  And to what to my wonderous eyes did appear? A flock of  not so tiny chickens peacefully doing their chicken  thing under the watchful eye of a very handsome rooster. I wandered around just never wanting to leave, admiring the veggies (Oh Jessica,you would love this!), feeling not envious but just overjoyed that such a philanthropic place exists.

But I was there to lend a hand to one of my newly found passions; helping others learn to make healthy food  choices. You see, this Garden is run by the International Community Foundation and just recently, thanks to the efforts of Chef Julie Darling , Michelle Duggan Cox and many others, is now hosting local school children at the garden to learn about cooking with the organic goods found at the garden. The program has now expanded to include guest chefs who volunteer to teach groups of children about food, health, choices and cooking.

As always, I met some wonderful people to include Chef Chad White and Chef Andrew Spurgin.  My good friend Chef Basil Hernandez was there and soul sister Michelle Duggan Cox, who runs the Learning Center at Olivewood.

The day started with Julie lending me one of her Chef coats! Man, I am such a sucker for that stuff. The coat was actually really comfy and I kept it on all day. I wonder if my niece, the future Chef Alex Ashforth ,likes her coat? I’m guessing yes!

yep, thats my elf ear. learn to love it!

Will this be my only chance to ever dress up like a chef? hmmmm.

Yes, there was some early goofing off and breakfast eating and of course I wanted to open the wine that was in the fridge, but cooler senses prevailed and we soon all got to work.

Several bunches of kids came in throughout the morning learning about and helping to make Chef Chad’s Grapefruit Soda. Each group would then rotate outside and work with the Master Gardener of the property, Martha and then stop by and crowd around a table set up by Chef Andrew that was set up with good and bad food choices and exotic fruits that were donated by Specialty Produce for the kids to try. I admire these people so much, very busy professional Chefs giving back in a way that really matters.

The very patient Chad White teaching the kids to squeeze a grapefruit

Chef Andrew want to know "what side of the table are YOU on?"

Chef Julie explains why we are making grapefruit soda

Soon after, a group of donors to the foundation came through and it was the main event. We were to serve lunch with the help of the kids and there was quite a whirlwind of activity although a lot of prep had been done beforehand. We set a nice area up near the pool and had the kids serve these philanthropically minded people the grapefruit soda. Meanwhile, the kitchen was a last minute frenzy as lunch came out and was carried down to the pool area to be served.

All in all the event came off nicely and the meal that Chefs Chad, Julie and Basil put together was beautiful. It was really fun to see how proud the kids were of the soda they helped make. I really hope it helped to encourage the donors to bug their friends for more donations.

menu, recipes and party favor of garden herbs

I just want to say thank you to Michelle,can you believe that she put down on the card that I’m a “Food Writer”? I love her! It was a thrill to see my name next to that dream job! Of course, I covered it up with rosemary in this picture, but who cares? I brought one of the cards home with me 🙂

I learned so much today and absolutely fell in love with Olivewood. As far as my chef friends go, how did I get so lucky to meet such wonderful people at this time in my life?

Luann Harris Gould

Food Writer

Don't worry, that chicken will never be dinner!

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Olivewood Garden and Learning Center

Well folks, I’m off this morning to a local food related volunteer event. I’ll be helping Chefs Julie and Basil with a group of school kids. The kids will help prepare a lunch for 23 of the donors of this non-profit, very Jamie Oliver-esque!
I am very excited for this opportunity.I have been wanting to visit this site ever since I heard about from Chef Julie at her Just Call Us Kitchen a couple months back and I am thrilled that she invited me to help out.
One of the coolest things about it? I get to wear a Chef’s jacket! how cool is that?
Pics later on today and the full run down.
ta ta for now!


My blog is suffering. I have been distracted by other projects I’ve become involved in. I’ve been working in my own garden lately and I have more than enough food right now that I have grown myself and haven’t ordered my FMB for a few weeks now for various reasons.

I have spent a little time volunteering with the awesome and wonderful Just Call Us Volunteers and am heading next week to Olivewood Learning Center to help teach a class of schoolkids some healthy recipes.

My garden is super important to me right now as an event is planned for June and I want it looking really good for that! Folks from San Diego Food not Lawns are hosting a “Farmer on the Block” open house at my garden and I am very excited about that! I will be able to sell my surplus veggies to my neighbors and the San Diego Food not Lawns people will be on hand to help people plan their own food-growing gardens. VERY COOL!

In addition to all that, I am renovating my shack-tastic porch( yes, the porch of Porchtime Pickles!) to make more of an outdoor room for summer.

Whew! sorry little blog….I’ll try harder!

Anytime Noodles

Hi Guys, thought I would share with you a quick and easy meal you can enjoy any time of day.

This particular dish is very customizable and you can literally use any veggies you have on hand. It is a wonderful pan fried noodle dish, crispy on the outside and really satisfying

For our “Anytime Noodles” this morning I used: Enoki mushrooms, mint,cilantro, shredded carrots, bean sprouts, ginger,garlic, green onion and Thai basil. For a little sauce and flavor I mixed up a little fish sauce (you could omit if you don’t want to use), hoisin and soy sauce and a little hot red pepper.

Simply mince up the garlic, ginger, green onion and stir fry with a little oil with the mushrooms. At first, I left the mushrooms whole, but then decided to cut them up and I just did it in the pan. Add the chopped up cilantro and basil and carrots, and cook until a lot of moisture has evaporated.

Then, I added the bean sprouts and mint, stirred for just a second then took it all out of the pan and set aside. Meanwhile my fresh Chinese noodles had finished cooking and I drained them well.

The only tricky part of this dish is to make sure your pan is hot and your oil cold. Add the drained noodles to the pan and just sort of spread them out. DON”T STIR. Just let them cook. You will end up turning the whole pile over and they should be a little brown and crispy. After you turn them over (after maybe 5 min) add the cooked veggie mixture to the top and then add your sauce. Continue to cook for about 5 min more until the under side is crispy as well. As with a lot of things I make, this dish is excellent with a Greek Fried Egg on top.

This is how the noodles should look once you turn them over

If the noodles stick to the pan, don’t worry. Just take them off the heat for a couple of minutes then scrape up with a metal spatula.

They should not stick if you get the pan hot, add cold oil, add noodles AND DON’T STIR. It’s always so tempting to mess with stuff when it’s cooking, but sometimes it’s best just to let it be.

I have made this dish also with chopped and sauteed greens from my garden and served with a side of marinated and baked tofu to my young adult nephews and their friends and got a huge “thumbs up”.

Anytime Noodles are definitely a family favorite.

Let me know if you make them!