Happy Halloween!

Posted by: on Oct 31, 2011 | 3 Comments

Orange and Purple Cauliflower

I don’t have any sugary themed treats to offer today, but I thought the combination of these orangey and deep purple cauliflower from the farmer’s market this week seemed pretty spooky.

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Spicy Eggplant Relish

Posted by: on Oct 29, 2011 | 2 Comments

Spicy Eggplant Pepper Relish

When I saw this Eggplant Relish over at Food on the Food, I know I would have to make it. It sounded so good, and it totally is. You should need to make this, especially if you are a eggplant fan. I have been pretty much putting it on everything, including turkey burgers, chicken and tuna steaks. It would be perfect to serve with roasted vegetables. Personally, I like this quite spicy and added about a 1/2 tsp of cayenne and some extra cumin to the original recipe.

Spicy Eggplant Relish
Slightly adapted from Food on the Food

2 tbsp olive oil
1 minced onion
2 Japanese eggplants or 1 globe, diced into small cubes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt, plus additional to taste
1 medium red bell pepper, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cayenne (you may want to start with 1/4 tsp)

Heat oil in a large skillet and add onion, eggplant, cumin, and salt, and sauté over medium heat until eggplant is tender, 10-15 minutes. Add pepper and sauté another 5 minutes. Stir in garlic. Stir in lemon juice and cook several minutes more. Add cayenne a few shakes at a time until you get the desired heat. Add more salt if necessary. (I added another 1/2 tsp of salt.)

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Scenes from Today

Posted by: on Oct 24, 2011 | No Comments

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Making Beef Stock…

Posted by: on Oct 23, 2011 | No Comments

Homemade Beef Stock

I love making my own chicken and vegetable stock, but I have always bought beef stock. I heard it was a lot of work and takes a long time. This is true. Roasting bones, simmering for nearly a day, straining, skimming fat, it isn’t a quick process. The end result is worth it and doesn’t resemble any stock you can buy at the store. I used this recipe as a guide from Nourished Kitchen that simmers for up to 24 hours.

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If you are going to make beef stock, you really need to buy the highest quality stock bones you possibly can. I bought mine from Full of Life Farm at our local farmer’s market.  If you are boiling bones you really should know where they came from, right? As mentioned this is quite different from store bought boxed/canned beef stock. It will have a deep rich beef flavor and don’t be surprised that it will congeal when it cools.  I added spinach, and dried thyme for an iron/nutrient dense quick soup. This would be the perfect base for French onion soup or rich fall gravies.

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Beef Stock
Adapted from Nourished Kitchen 

3-5 pounds beef stock bones (local grass fed organic)
1 onion
4 carrots
4 celery stalks
4 cloves of garlic
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp peppercorns
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 bouquet garni of thyme, rosemary, parsley
salt to taste

Rinse and dry the bones. Place evenly on a sheet pan and at 400 degrees for an hour until they are browned.  Add the drained bones, bay leaves and vegetables to a large pot and cover with water. I used a 6 quart Dutch Oven and fit about 14 cups of water. Bring to a boil and add vinegar. Turn down to a simmer and skim off any fat and foam as it boils to the top. I found I only had to do this a few times. For the last few hours of simmering, I added my herbs and peppercorns. Allow to simmer for as long as possible, up to 24 hours. (Yes, it is a long time!) After it has cooled slightly, pour though a fine mesh sieve. Cool completely and skim off any fat from the top layer. The finished stock will set when refrigerated.

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Neighborhood Lemon Trees

Posted by: on Oct 16, 2011 | 3 Comments

Lemons

It still amazes me that people can grow lemons in their yards here.  I have been taking Phoebe for long walks around the neighborhood and every time, I see a citrus tree I feel the need to stop and casually check it out. If I ever do have a real garden here, I will definitely have to add one to my list. I can’t imagine ever having too many lemons.

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Fresh Broiled Sardines and Unpopular Opinions

Posted by: on Oct 15, 2011 | No Comments

Sardines and Basil

Now that I have a less hectic schedule, I have found that I don’t mind doing laundry and mopping the floors. I kind of enjoy it. I know, right? This isn’t to say that I am turning into some kind of Stepford wife, just that these mundane household tasks make me feel more connected and balanced somehow. Well, everything but washing dishes. I still hate that with a passion. Not feeling so rushed all the time has been a blessing I didn’t know I needed.  In a lot of ways, my health issues have forced these changes and made me slow way down. But, I really want to to whatever I can to preserve this pace, even if it means sacrificing other things.

Little Fish

I think that my recent enjoyment of housework is ranks right up there with most people’s opinions on sardines.  It falls solidly in the ‘Do Not Like‘ category. You probably already know how good these little fish are for your health.  If you like salmon or tuna, I really think that you can acquire a taste for them.  The quality of canned varieties vary. I recommend trying a brand packed in olive oil. They are great with mustard and crackers or tomato sauce and pasta.

I bought these larger fresh sardines from the fish market and broiled them with the slightest brushing of olive oil, salt and pepper. They are naturally very oily and flavorful so you don’t need to do much to them. I broiled them for about 5-6 minutes, until the flesh is firm to the touch and the eye is opaque.  I actually used our toaster…no, point heating up the whole oven for two little fish! It is really simple. They do have a lot of bones, but you can pull the flesh delicately away from the center to avoid most of them.  So, this isn’t so much a recipe as me imploring you to try them, even if you think you hate them.

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Pink Bean and Vegetable Stew

Posted by: on Oct 13, 2011 | No Comments

Pink Bean and Vegetable Stew

I love a good deal, and this stew is a bargain in terms of ingredients. When we went on a big grocery shopping trip after moving into our new place, I bought..oh, over ten pounds of various dried beans and lentils.  They were on sale thus making it completely necessary for our house of two. I really like these pink beans, but you could easily use navy or any other variety. I know that many people profess to hate anchovies. Me, I am a lover of all small fish.  Anchovies add a deep richness to this simple stew, and I promise that you will not taste fishiness in the end result. Even my tiny fish phobic husband agrees. This is the perfect soup to make on a lazy afternoon when you have time to let it simmer. The beans will still take several hours to cook and for the flavors to come together.

This makes a fairly huge amount of stew. For us, that means plenty of leftovers. I like keeping some in the fridge and adding some freshly steamed vegetables to the top as the week goes on.  The fresh parsley is a really nice counterpoint to the richness of the broth and beans, but I feel the need to put fresh herbs on just about everything.

Bouquet Garni

Pink Bean and Vegetable Stew

1 Pound dried pink beans (soaked overnight)
1 large onion
6 large carrots chopped
6 celery stalks chopped
1 2 oz tin of anchovies packed in olive oil, drained
5 cloves of garlic
1 16 oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp salt (more to taste, depending on stock)
1 tsp pepper
1 bouquet garni (1 sprig rosemary, several sprigs of marjoram, oregano and thyme)
I quart chicken stock
1 1/2 quarts water
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup fresh parsley

Heat olive oil over medium heat and sautee, chopped onions, carrots and celery until the onions are slightly translucent. Add the drained anchovies and stir, they will melt into the oil. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute.  Pour in the chicken stock, tomatoes, water and rinsed beans.  Tightly tie together the herbs using kitchen twine and add to pot with bay leaf. Bring to a boil and add salt and pepper. After it has come to a rolling boil, allow to simmer on low for at least three to four hours. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust. Optionally, stir in 1/2 cup fresh parsley.

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My Morning in iPhone Photos

Posted by: on Oct 10, 2011 | No Comments

Morning WalkPhoebeHIP_339955052.171490Reading And Ginger Tea

Morning Walk/ Phoebe wrapped as a burrito in her blanket with her toy otter/ Shitake mushrooms and an egg in my favorite little cast iron skillet/ Reading and ginger tea

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Tomatoes with Vegan Pesto

Posted by: on Oct 10, 2011 | 3 Comments

Tomatoes with Vegan Pesto

I know tomatoes the tomato season is dwindling in the rest of the country, but it is still going strong here on the west coast. I felt compelled to make a dainty little tomato and pesto tower. Of course, the tomatoes could just as easily be chopped and tossed as a salad. I miss cheese in many things, but pesto isn’t one of them. I love the way the freshness of the herbs, lemon and garlic come though without being muddled.

There are many variations of vegan/non-dairy pesto out there, and I think I make this slightly differently each time.  Nutritional yeast seems to be a popular addition. Below is my basic go-to recipe.  You could use the traditional pine nuts or even walnuts, but I just like the flavor of almonds and always have almond flour on hand. I have had no problem freezing this in small portions and just defrosting as needed.

Vegan Basil Pesto

6 cups fresh basil (lightly packed)
1 cup fresh parsley
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt  (add as needed)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cup ground almonds or almond flour
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pulse in a food processor until combined to desired consistency. I might blend this more smoothly if I were serving it as a sauce rather than just atop fresh tomatoes. You can always add more olive oil to adjust the texture.

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Napa in Photos

Posted by: on Oct 9, 2011 | No Comments

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We recently went to Napa for the day, and had an amazing tour at Hendry’s Ranch Vineyard. The winery is family owned and all about detail. It is amazing to see how much of the process is literally hands-on labor intensive. The wine tasting was really informative (especially if you enjoy sciencey tidbits) and not at all pretentious. Of course, we also really enjoyed the wine.

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(Note: This is not an compensated review. They were a lucky find on Trip Advisor.)

 

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