What I did this summer

The summer of 2014 is at an end. In Colorado it was a wet one. The garden did well this year.

I kept up with the produce but I invited neighbors and friends to stop and “shop” as well. Joy said this was better than the grocery store because she could come in her nightgown.

the 2014 garden

The food processor I got for Christmas got plenty of action with chopping and shredding

the food processor

I used this batch for a zucchini chocolate cake with a chocolate cheese frosting.

I forgot to get a picture, but I’ve made the cake for two potlucks.

At Mary Beth’s Labor Day party I got a standing ovation from an admiring crowd stating it was the best chocolate cake ever. Then laughed when they heard I snuck vegetables in a dessert.

shredded zucchini

Our neighborhood is full of rabbits (lack of foxes and presence of coyotes). One and maybe two bunnies made it into our garden although interestingly they haven’t eaten anything that I can see.

the garden bunny

 We grew cilantro this year, it was gorgeous so I tried my hand at some Indian Chutney.

making chutney

This Cilantro Chutney recipe is from The Splendid Table (my favorite website).

I fell in love. I put it on roasted chicken and fried eggs.

cilantro chutney

I joined the spiralizer craze, getting one for my birthday.

the spiralizer

I spiralized carrots, zucchini, potatoes and yams. I loved placing the carrots and the zucchini in a microwave safe bowl, steaming it for about a minute and tossing basil pesto in it. Yummy!

It could also be adapted into a cold salad and tossed with a vinaigrette or dressing.

spiraled carrots

I had a lot of cucumbers this year. This salad was a combo of cucumbers, mint (both from the garden) with black and white quinoa and brown rice

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This next recipe was from Bon Appétit  magazine Watermelon Gazpacho.

Cantaloupe was abundant and inexpensive at the grocery store, so I adapted the recipe.

melon gazpacho ingredients

Patty’s Cantaloupe Gazpacho. Oh it was so good. Sweet and cool eaten as an appetizer on the back porch.

melon gazpacho

 This recipe was also from Bon Appétit  magazine for a Grilled Salad.

I adapted this as well. The romaine lettuce was 99 cents per head. I brushed it with olive oil and my husband grilled each side for about 1-2 minutes. Oh this was wonderful! I adapted this recipe to what produce was available.

grilled salad

And finally, Ginger Marmalade. I was excited to make this recipe since sampling James Keillor and Sons Ginger Marmalade.

I surveyed many recipes on-line, it was a daunting task.

peeled ginger

shredded ginger

Time consuming little recipe!

hand blended ginger

canning the marmalade

Ginger can be a bit HOT. This marmalade was HOT. The ultimate experimenter, I looked at other recipes and found an Orange-Ginger Marmalade. So I mixed my marmalade with regular store-bought orange marmalade and tamed it down a bit.

I also used it as a glaze for roasted chicken and roasted carrots from the garden.

ginger glazed chicken & carrots

I went to Portland in August with nursing colleagues Nancy, Rita and Kathy, for a conference. A manager for a local retailer tipped us off on to Nong’s Khao Man Gai food truck for lunch.  Nong was the named Food Network Chopped Champion just 4 days before we visited.  What a sweet girl who has her own bottled sauce and make the best chicken and rice.

Nong's Food Truck

It was a summer of reflection for me. Autumn will bring some changes. Ready for new challenges.

A Fearless Woman

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How do you spell spelt?

Spelt is an ancient grain that is a distant cousin to wheat but existed centuries before. Hmmm…How did I stumble onto spelt?

Well I have experimented with my diet of late. My hairdresser told me about the Fast Metabolism Diet (FMD) and how she, her sister and mother had lost weight. She said it was quite healthy, so I had to check it out.

The FMD rotates in three phases by which to eat certain foods that will speed up your metabolism. My summary is this: you eat every 2-3 hours, no dairy, no flour, no soy, no corn products, no alcohol, and no sugar. You eat a lot of veggies, protein, drink lots of water and eat moderate amounts of fruit, oils, healthy grains like steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, or spelt.

spelt flour

I’ve lost 5 lb. I’d like to lose 15 more, but I’m still working at. It is hard to go from semi-healthy eating to completely healthy habits in a month.

Anyhoo… I had to try a spelt recipe since I had never heard of it nor made a recipe out of it as yet. I was looking on Pinterest.com and came across Homemade Spelt Tortillas from fellow WordPress bloggers The Adventures of Z and K.

Spelt Flatbread

2 C spelt flour

3 TBSP olive oil

3/4 tsp salt

2/3 C water

Mix oil,salt and spelt flour together then mix in water a little at a time until incorporated, but not too sticky. Knead for 1-2 minutes, Rest for 20 minutes.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces with a pizza cutter. Roll out, flour the board or pastry cloth if it is sticky.

rolling tortillas

Heat a non-stick pan and brown for 1-2 minutes on each side.

spelt flatbread

Yummy flat bread!

Patty’s Points:

1. Spelt is not gluten-free. It is a cousin of wheat but people with wheat allergies do not have the same problem with spelt.

2. I found it easy to work with just like regular flour.

3. I heated up my pan initially really on high but had to turn it down to med-low, so as not to burn the bread. I found that 1 1/2 minutes on each side was perfect.

4. The hubby and dog loved the flatbread.

waiting for bread

Making Miso Soup

I been sampling a lot of Asian food lately: Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Vietnamese.

I started with Miso Soup. Alton Brown has even featured Miso Soup in a Good Eats episode and his cookbook.

Miso Soup ingredients are not commonly found in a typical grocery store. I ventured to an Asian neighborhood and shopped at the Little Saigon Market. I found food items and wares from every Asian country. It was so easy to get distracted with all the offerings and forget about what I was there to shop for.

Little Saigon

tea

The basic ingredients are dashi, miso, dried seaweed and tofu.

Dashi is the Japanese word for stock. Japanese dashi is light but packed with unami. It’s made by soaking dried edible kelp (kombu), cured bonito flakes, and sometimes dried sardines or dried shiitake mushrooms in water.

Miso is the elegant Japanese term for fermented soybean paste. It comes in red and white soybean paste.

Dried Seaweed is what it sounds like. The link is about the health benefits of seaweed.

Tofu is one item you can find in most grocery stores. It is soy beans made into a cheese like product. The firm type of tofu is for this soup.

IMG_2546

Simple 10-Minute Miso Soup – from The Steamy Kitchen 

Serves 4
4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dashi granules
1/2 cup miso paste
1 tablespoon dried seaweed (for miso soup), soaked in water
1/2 cup cubed tofu
2 tablespoons chopped green onion

1. Pour the water into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the instant dashi and whisk to dissolve. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the tofu. Drain the seaweed and add the seaweed to the pot. Simmer for 2 minutes.

2. In the meantime, Spoon the miso paste into a bowl. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the hot dashi broth into a bowl and whisk with chopsticks or a whisk to mix and melt the miso paste so that it becomes a smooth mixture.

3. Turn the heat off, add the miso paste to the pot and stir well. Top with green onions, if desired, and serve immediately.

miso soup

Patty’s Points:

1. Of all the recipes I looked at, Steamy Kitchen’s was the easiest. I didn’t have enough patience to make homemade dashi like Alton.

2. Dashi has an extremely strong fishy flavor. That flavor in combination with the miso, makes a strong flavored soup. One serving was quite enough.

3. I’ve made the soup again but greatly reduced the amount of dashi and countered it with vegetable or chicken broth. Miso Soup purists would probably think it dilutes the flavor. I don’t care.

4. The seaweed tasted okay. When I have replicated the recipe I added spinach once instead of seaweed. It was fine as well.

5. The soup is loaded with protein and health benefits. It has to be good for you.

I had to have some dessert before I left the Little Saigon Market so I purchased homemade Vietnamese banana cake: Banh chuoi nuong and sesame balls. They were both melt in your mouth delicious. I made one fool hearty attempt at making the banana cake. Another day….

banana cake and sesame balls

Vegan Chef Edu makes seitan

 The Fearless Cook Club gathered last Saturday to learn all about vegan cooking and celebrate vegetarian cuisine. Our guest chef was Edu, the boyfriend of Cindy’s daughter, Kara. Edu is from Basque country, the northern most border of Spain. He has experience as a cook in a friend’s Tapas Bar in Madrid.

He is a vegan excluding meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many products, like wine, use animal parts in processing. For example, some wineries use animal parts to press down the grapes. That practice is not as common anymore, so many wines can be imbibed by vegans these days.

Edu was very excited about our cooking club and the blog. He was a natural at food demonstration and very relaxed. He suggested we get aprons or T-shirts with our cooking club name on them. What a fabulous idea, eh?

He taught us how to make “fake meat” also known as seitan which is made with wheat gluten.

The base of seitan is using equal parts wheat gluten to vegetable broth,1/3 part soy sauce, onion and garlic powder. From there you can add any flavoring you wish.

The key is not overmix it because of the gluten content (just think bread and over-kneading)

Then boil in water or vegetable broth.


Carve it in slices as below.

Fry in a pan with vegetable oil.

So we ate our seitan with Edu’s couscous vegetable dish, Barb’s mushroom barley soup, Cindy’s quinoa dish, Julie’s hummus, and my baba ghanoush. For dessert Char made almond flour chocolate chip cookies, without eggs but used almond syrup. I brought my grape leaf pie but with the yogurt, it wasn’t true vegan dish. Of course we had wine. Nice job by everyone.

The verdict? The seitan had a really good flavor; consistency was like Spam.

Seitan is all about the transformation. Kara reported there is a restaurant, City O City, that is famous for their Seitan Wings, in Buffalo or Barbecue flavor. It is one of the popular staples on the menu. Sounds like an outing.

Take a bow Edu. Thanks for expanding our culinary horizons.