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

IMG_4961

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

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

Dandelion Blossoms

dandelions on table

Dandelions. For me growing up I thought they were cute little flowers that popped in the lawn. I hated when they turned to seed, I loved them when they were pretty yellow. Of course, we didn’t fertilize our lawn so they were everywhere.

You are starting to see more about dandelion health benefits these days, most notably with dandelion root tea. It is a tea that provides natural detoxification benefiting digestion and liver health.

So why dandelions? Why now? Well today is Mother’s Day and my mother passed about three months ago. I was sorting through books and came across this binder of recipes from my home county that belonged to my mother. There was date or year noted in the book but I am guessing it was circa late 1960s, early 1970s. My mother never contributed recipes to this cookbook but she referenced it quite a bit.

cookbook

Near the end of the book was this recipe for Dandelion Blossoms. I was taken aback, really dandelions?  I am sure my mother never attempted this recipe and we as kids, would’ve turn up our noses at it.

recipe

I did find Dandelion Fritter recipe. The website was a little more dainty with the dandelions than I was.

soak em

setting it up

fry em

long view of dish

close up of dish

Patty’s Points:

1) Make sure you don’t have allergies to dandelions before you eat them. ALSO make sure there are no fertilizers used in the area you pick your dandelions. You can also  grow them from seed  in your own backyard or indoors.

2) I used a Louisiana Fish Fry for the dry ingredient, lemon-spiced. I could barely tell I was eating dandelions. My husband ate one. My son thought they were mushrooms; I didn’t tell him any differently.

3)  My mother was fearless, in my eyes, when canning produce from the garden: pickled beets, cucumber relish, bread and butter pickles, and tomatoes. I admired that about her.  This recipe was adventurous for me. I’m sure my Dad would think I was a little crazy to eat dandelions. I probably won’t tell him I made these.

Happy Mother’s Day. I miss you Mom.

God took the fragrance of a flower, the majesty of a tree,

The gentleness of  morning dew, the calm of a quiet sea,

The beauty of the twilight hour, the soul of a starry night,

The laughter of a rippling brook, the grace of a bird in flight,

Then God fashioned from these things, 

A creation like no other,

And when His masterpiece was through,

He called it simply…Mother.

Herbert Farnham

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

Go green

September 28th was Hug a Vegetarian Day. It was merely coincidental that The Fearless Cooking Club decided to go vegetarian this month.

Cindy said that she was “afraid” of meatless fare. Then her world-traveling daughter returned home with her Spanish-Vegan boyfriend. He will be our guest chef tomorrow  demonstrating vegan recipes for us.

There are seven kinds of vegetarians. Nowadays, we hear more about vegans who exclude meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines.

We are all bringing a vegetarian dish tomorrow to show our flair for the meatless. I could be a lacto-ova vegetarian; I don’t know about being a strict vegan.

I prepared a dish that includes Greek Yogurt: Grape leaf herb and yogurt pie from The Splendid Table episode on what to do with grape leaves.

We have a lovely grapevine my DH planted oh so many years ago. They are beautiful this time of year, still green with burgeoning grapes.  I was so happy to see a recipe using fresh grape leaves.

 Yotam Ottolenghi, Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Dishes from London’s Ottolenghi, Chronicle Books (2011).

Grape leaf herb and yogurt pie

20 to 25 grape leaves (fresh or from a jar)

4 shallots, finely chopped

4 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 cup Greek yogurt, plus extra to serve

2 1/2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted

1/2 tbsp finely chopped tarragon

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

3 tbsp finely chopped dill

4 tbsp finely chopped mint

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt and black pepper

1/2 cup rice flour

3 tbsp dried breadcrumbs (preferably panko)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the grape leaves in a shallow bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 10 minutes. Then remove the leaves from the water and dry them well with a tea towel. Use scissors to trim off and discard the bit of hard stalk at the base of each leaf.

2. Sauté the shallots in 1 tablespoon of the oil for about 8 minutes, or until light brown. Leave to cool down.

3. Take a round and shallow ovenproof dish that is roughly 8 inches in diameter, and cover its bottom and sides with grape leaves, slightly overlapping them and allowing the leaves to hang over the rim of the dish. Mix the melted butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil; use about two-thirds of this to generously brush the leaves lining the dish.

4. Mix together in a bowl the shallots, yogurt, pine nuts, chopped herbs and lemon zest and juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add the rice flour and mix well until you get a homogenous paste. Spread this paste evenly in the baking dish.

5. Fold the overhanging grape leaves back over the top of the filling so they cover the edges, then cover the filling completely with the remaining grape leaves. Brush with the rest of the butter and oil mix. Finally, scatter the breadcrumbs over the top and drizzle over the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the leaves crisp up and the breadcrumbs turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature, with a dollop of fresh yogurt.

Patty’s Points

1. I can’t believe I made a recipe using the grape leaves!  Brushing the oil on the leaves softened them nicely.

2. The herbs made the dish taste so fresh. I was surprised I could make something so organic.

3. I think this was probably the most interesting dish I have ever made. Bob’s Red Mill is a great brand for the rice flour staple. I will have to check out the recipes on the website to figure out what to make with the rest of the bag.