September 29, 2006
I don't like the thought of all the plastic involved with this process, but the upside is that you are able to wash and reuse the bags as many times as you like. The fruit that I'd frozen just a couple of months ago was already badly freezer burned, so I'm hoping this will help prolong the freshness of my precious stores. My big plan is to get the jar sealer attachment, which allows you to seal things in Mason jars using regular canning lids. This will prevent bug infestations in the pantry, and I'm thinking I can just freeze loose berries, peas, beans, etc., in sealed jars instead of buying more bags.
Here are some of my raspberries, pesto cubes, and blueberries all tucked in and ready for winter.
September 27, 2006
But I digress. Victoria is a gorgeous little city located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island (no, the city of Vancouver isn't actually on that island - confusing, I know). It's an amazing place - very British and quaint but with that bracing west coast ruggedness. My favorite place to eat while living there was a place called The Rebar, one of the very best vegetarian restaurants there is.
So what does this have to do with "C" and our relationship? We went there on one of our very first dates, and he intentionally ordered a dish with tofu in it. I knew at that moment that this was a guy that had potential (he even reads for fun - jackpot!).
Fast forward about 10 years, and I was understandably delighted when they put out a cookbook of some of their best recipes. A few of my favorites include the Raspberry Oat Bars, the Squash and Smoked Cheddar Tart, and the Rustic Bread Salad.
This is a salad like no other. Piled high with huge garlicky croutons, chopped tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onion, bocconcini cheese, and the best basil vinaigrette I've ever tasted, it's one of our favorite summer meals.
If you ever find yourself in Victoria, be sure to check it out!
September 26, 2006
September 25, 2006
To prepare the squash, I halved and seeded them, and then brushed them with a little olive oil. After a sprinkling of salt and pepper, I roasted them (cut side down) in my countertop convection oven until they were soft when poked with a knife (I use the convection regularly when I'm cooking something small rather than heating up the big oven).
While they were baking, I caramelized some onions slowly in a cast iron frying pan with a bit more olive oil and salt. I used two whole onions tonight but that wasn't nearly enough for the four of us, so I'll do at least one per person next time.
When everything was ready, I placed a generous amount of goat cheese on top of the squash (I buy a delicious one that's been rolled in fine herbs), piled on the caramelized onions, and topped everything off with a dollop of homemade pesto.
Thanks for sharing your great idea, Catriona!
To see some other delicious and healthy dishes, check out Sweetnicks' ARF/5-A-Day roundup on Tuesday nights.
September 24, 2006
This morning I started drying what's left of the Juliet cherry tomatoes (which look like baby romas). As of tonight they seem more or less much done; I guess their smaller size makes them faster to dehydrate.
I also took a stab at making ketchup today. I don't particularly like the stuff but my son does. Since the organic variety costs an arm and a leg and is trucked from halfway across the continent, I thought it might be a good thing to try. We haven't used it on anything yet, but it seems to taste like the real thing.
I'm continuing to revise my planting priorities for next year. I've already decided that I need to make room for more basil, and today I realized that I need to plant far more roma tomatoes than I did this year, with maybe only a few varieties for fresh eating. Most things that I want to make seem to call for the meatier romas, and I just don't have enough out there (and the ones I do have are still pretty green). I've made some sauces (salsa and ketchup), and will have some dried, but I hardly have any cans of just tomatoes. I use a lot of canned tomatoes, so this is something that will have to change.
I'm hoping to have at least a few left over that don't ripen though. My mom recently found her recipe for green tomato mincemeat (which I love), so I'll be needing some for that!
September 23, 2006
September 22, 2006
1. One book that changed your life - hardest question first.
Inventing the Future by David Suzuki. Read this as a teen. It was one of the first books that I ever read about environmental issues and it helped solidify a bunch of feelings that I already had.
2. One book that you've read more than once.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. Read it several times as a kid, and then recently to my kids - one of my favorites! I don't usually re-read books, maybe because it would take time away from reading something new!
3. One book that you'd want on a desert island.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, just because her books are so darn fun and would help the time pass quickly.
4. One book that made you laugh.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. One of my favorite books of all time (could also count as the book that made me cry).
5. One book that made you cry.
Night by Elie Wiesel. A powerful memoir of a young Jewish boy's experience at the hands of the Nazis.
6. One book that you wish you had written.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - brilliant.
7. One book you wish had never been written.
I don't know, anything that inspires hatred in people. Mein Kampf, maybe?
8. One book that you are reading at the moment.
The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler.
9. One book that you've been meaning to read.
Anything by Jane Austen (I know, I know! I've been scolded numerous times for being so negligent!).
10. Tag five others that you'd like to do this meme.
Carla, Paula, Thicketdweller, Tigergirl, and Steph
If you're reading this and feel like responding, consider yourself tagged (let me know in the comments so I can take a peek at your list!).
September 21, 2006
I love it because I can whip it together in about 20-30 minutes, and it's made with things that I usually have readily at hand. It makes a last minute supper feel like something special rather than an afterthought.
The amount of cream may sound like a lot, but this recipe makes quite a large amount of pasta, and usually sees us through one filling dinner, with enough left over for lunch the next day. I've tried substituting milk for some of the cream, but it's just not the same.
Creamy Orzo (Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis)
1 pound orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped (I usually just use a couple of tablespoons of chopped onion)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, juices drained
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a heavy large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cream and peas. Add the orzo and toss to coat. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the Parmesan to the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Stir the pasta mixture until the sauce coats the pasta thickly, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to maintain a creamy consistency. Season the orzo with salt and pepper, and serve.
Okay, now I'm hungry.
September 20, 2006
September 19, 2006
I was very excited to find this fat cluster of blackberries hidden under a branch! They were very big and very tasty. Despite only having been planted this year, I've gotten a suprising number of berries off of this plant.
This Jersey Wakefield cabbage looks just about ready to eat. The heads aren't quite as cone shaped as I thought they would be, but they look pretty good.
And finally, here are my crazy children out doing their rain dance when the heavens opened up at bedtime last night. The sound of rain pounding against the windows always sends them running out the door!
Pajamas and rubber boots - they obviously inherited their mother's keen fashion sense!
September 18, 2006
September 17, 2006
September 16, 2006
- 8 cups pears, peeled and coursely chopped
- 1 cup apple cider (unfiltered apple juice)
- 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg (use slightly less if using freshly ground)
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp cloves
For a delicious and comforting cold weather drink, try stirring a bit of the butter into a mug of warm milk (yum).
September 15, 2006
Being a pound puppy, we're not exactly sure what breed(s) she is, but we're pretty sure based on the photos that we've seen here (upper left corner) and elsewhere that she's an English Shepherd. Her temperament matches the descriptions as well. (Any experts on the breed care to weigh in on this?).
Because of her red hair and long socks, I wanted to call her Pippi, after my childhood hero. As you'll read in the first link, that didn't work out (she already answered to Princess, and Bee couldn't understand why anyone would ever want to change her name when she already had such a great one!), but I still sometimes call her Pippi Puppy, which has lately been shortened to "P" Pup.She is one of the sweetest, most loving dogs I've ever known. Her puppyhood was a bit of a challenge because she was a total spaz and didn't have much interest in doing what we wanted her to do (though she did sleep through the night right from the start), but she has calmed down nicely and has even learned some manners. She still gets overly excited when anyone comes over to visit (who doesn't?), but you couldn't ask for a more loving companion. She adores her kids and will run to their side at the first sign of upset, giving as many cuddles and kisses as it takes to make things better.
Princess' favorite activity is swimming, and unfortunately that means that she will lay down in any body of water that happens to be handy, often the muddiest, boggiest mud puddle she can find, and usually right as we're ending a walk and about to get in the car. Her love of water makes her an amazing lifeguard, however, and she watches the kids tirelessly from shore, swimming out to tow them back in if she thinks they've gone too far on their floaties.
She's become such a part of our family that we can't imagine life without her.
Click here to see a picture of her with her best friend, Baxter.
To see some more cute puppy pics, check out Sweetnicks' Weekend Dog Blogging on Sunday nights for a roundup of other bloggers' canine companions.
September 14, 2006
September 13, 2006
I put in a Three Sisters plot this year (click on the link for more info, but in a nutshell it's a native American method of interplanting corn, beans and squash), and while not all of the corn plants did as well as this, we have at least a couple of ears each.
September 12, 2006
Speaking of experiments, I'm also trying a fall planting of potatoes. Last month I was faced with a large empty bed and a bag of sprouted organic potatoes and I thought, what the heck? So far, so good - they're about 8-10 inches tall and look happy, I'm just a bit worried that the coming rains might do them in.
I'll keep you posted.
September 11, 2006
September 10, 2006
1/2 cup butter or non-hydrogenated margarine
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour (I usually use whole wheat pastry flour - either 100% or a combination)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini, packed
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (put 1/4 - 1/2 cup in the batter if desired)
1 cup of chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Cream the first 5 ingredients together until well mixed. Pile the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and spices in the bowl. Pour the buttermilk in and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the zucchini and walnuts (if putting any in the batter). Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and remaining walnuts over the top. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Cook cake completely in the pan.
I've made both of these things this week and still have about a third of that huge zucchini left. I think I'll prepare it for dinner tomorrow in one of the simplest and most satisfying ways - sauteed in olive oil with garlic, and topped off with a sprinkling of salt, pepper and a little grated parmesano reggiano.
Enjoy the zucchini glut while you can!
Check out Sweetnicks' ARF/5-A-Day Tuesdays for lots of great healthy recipe ideas.