We had one last bag of green tomatillos in the freezer, but I didn’t want to use them because it meant there would be no more tomatillos until late summer. After our final harvest, we froze about 12 pounds of tomatillos last fall then over the winter I experimented with soups using those frozen tomatillos, and this was our hands down favorite. Of course you can also make this with fresh tomatillos….
Michael isn’t a huge fan of butternut squash, but if you browse my archives you’ll see that I have quite a few butternut squash recipes. You might even think I am torturing my poor husband with all the butternut squash, but really I’m not. The sweetness of butternut squash just doesn’t appeal to him, so I try to find ways to spice it up and make it savory. Every once in a while another of my butternut squash soup experiments catches him by surprise and he’ll say he likes it and asks me to make it again. This soup is one those….
Around this time last year I received an email from Susan (Farmgirl Fare) telling me that I had won a box of fresh chanterelle mushrooms from Marx Foods in her giveaway. Once I recovered from the happy shock of winning two pounds of chanterelle mushroom I eagerly anticipated their arrival. When the box arrived at our door I was giddy with excitement. I don’t get giddy over too many things, but I was giddy over these chanterelles….
My grandmothers always made a big pot of Southern style green beans with a Virginia ham bone in it when we came to visit, and I would eat multiple helpings of those flavorful beans. The ham bone lent a smoky flavor to the beans that stuck in my memory and remains to this day. You could find them on the table amongst the fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits.
These vegan green beans, while not my grandmother’s, are full of flavor with caramelized red onions and a light balsamic vinegar sauce….
We did it. I can’t believe it’s true, but we planted two pecan trees in our yard. We spotted them at Lowe’s in late September and selected a Sumner Pecan and a Stuart Pecan. We are slightly north of the growing zone for the Sumner, but our area has mild winters so it should do well. Pecan trees need another variety nearby to produce, and we planted these within 30 feet of each other. They got a little dry at one point and we were worried we might lose them, but it looks like they have taken to their new home. They don’t look like much right now, just a couple sticks about five feet (152 cm) tall since they lost their leaves, but they are full of promise, I can feel it. We have hopeful visions of harvesting pounds and pounds of pecans in about eight years. Yes it will be a long wait, but if the trees produce then my dream to grow our own pecans will be fulfilled….
We discovered the persimmon tree in September when we noticed the golden orbs hanging from the branches. We hadn’t paid attention to the tree before because it was in a relatively inaccessible area behind our house and we had no idea what it was or what if anything it would produce, it had not set fruit until this year. When we found the fruit, we realized it was American persimmon (aka common persimmon and Eastern persimmon), which is a berry in botanic terms. The fruit is small, ranging 1 to 1-1/2 inches (2.5 to 4 cm) in diameter and very sweet when ripe.
Persimmons are autumn fruits that can hang on even after frost, and you can wait until after frost to gather them to ensure they are fully ripe. The leaves start to droop and fall off the tree as the fruit ripens. The persimmons should be very soft and even a little wrinkled before eating, otherwise they’ll have a chalky taste. If the fruit starts to drop when you shake the tree, they are pretty much ready. …
The upcoming release of the movie Julie & Julia (August 7, 2009) has ignited discussions about cooking and blogging and caused me to reflect on my own cooking journey. Cooking always seemed like a big mystery to me when I was growing up. My grandmothers were both talented Southern cooks and seemed to hardly measure anything. Though I truly adored their food, to my mother’s dismay I was never interested in things involving the kitchen, especially the cleaning part, so I really didn’t put forth any effort to learn. I didn’t grow up watching Julia Child and my culinary point of view was fairly limited to Southern and Midwest American foods, so it wasn’t until I tasted good Chinese food at a restaurant in the Chicago suburbs during my high school years that I realized I was missing a whole culinary world. An overseas move in 1989 and exposure to Asian and island cuisine ignited my passion for authentic regional foods. …
This is our first year for growing garlic and now we are slapping ourselves for not trying it years ago because it was so easy. We planted the garlic cloves back in October and then just let them do their thing, no difficult maintenance required. They sprouted before winter set in, then the real growth came in spring when the temperatures warmed up….
Bean salads are an essential part of any recipe file and are great for summer picnic salads since they are often dressed with dairy-free vinaigrettes. I like to mix up my own vinaigrettes, usually tasting and estimating until I get a flavor I like. In his new book, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, Michael Ruhlman explains how to use ratios to create everyday dishes. The standard ratio for vinaigrettes is three parts oil to one part acid, though it can vary depending on whether you choose a citrus juice or vinegar. Citrus juices tend to be very acidic and need some extra oil to balance the flavor, but generally vinegars work well with this three to one ratio. For this vinaigrette, I used one part white balsamic vinegar to three parts extra virgin olive oil.
We’re playing in flour again for our Gourmet bread challenge. This week I decided to make the crusty cornstalk rolls, which are reminiscent of an epi and only slightly different in shape. An epi resembles a stalk of wheat, and a cornstalk should suggest a stalk of corn with the ears hanging on it. With an epi, you cut on a diagonal from above the dough, but with a cornstalk you cut on a diagonal from the side. The cornstalk shape has a visible center stalk that the rolls stay attached to. No matter which shape I choose, I still find that mine don’t look like the perfectly formed versions I see at professional bakeries, but I keep going back and trying….
Lentils are one of my favorite comfort foods, and when I need a little warmth and comfort I’m very likely to walk into the kitchen and make a pot of mujaddarah, my favorite lentils and rice. Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrients, including protein, iron, fiber, folate, and thiamine, plus they are inexpensive, making them a great pantry staple. I keep bags of dried brown and red lentils on hand to take care of my cravings and I’m always on the lookout for another delicious way to enjoy them….
A good rye is one of my favorite kinds of bread, and I go head over heals for rye rolls. Put a basket of breads or rolls in front of me, and I’ll pick out the rye and whole grains first. I first started trying to make rye bread about 10 years ago, and let’s just say my first attempts resulted in heavy bricks capable of causing sufficient tooth damage to keep our dentist in business for a very long time.…
While the boys played I whipped up this carrot ginger soup yesterday for dinner. Michael was late getting home, saw the pot sitting on the stove, peered in and looked very skeptical. He stuck a finger into the cold soup to taste it and still didn’t look convinced. After I warmed it up and swirled in the yogurt, he said it tasted great and polished off two bowls, as did our six-year-old. I really like how light it is. Use the freshest, juiciest carrots you can find because they will give the soup so much more flavor….
It’s here! This week we celebrate my third blog anniversary and my birthday. January 7, 2006 was the day I found the first comment on my little online cooking database—it had been there for a couple weeks—and suddenly I realized I had a cooking blog. It’s also the day I found out I was pregnant with Monkey Boy, but that’s another story. Since we have two big things to celebrate I thought it would be fun to have some giveaways, so be on the lookout for at least one giveaway each week through the end of the month. This week’s giveaway is sponsored by Stonyfield Farm.
I’ll say this right up front: we are a family of yogurt eaters, and Stonyfield Farm is my favorite yogurt. I got hooked on the French Vanilla years ago and have been eating and cooking with their yogurts ever since. This pancake recipe from the Stonyfield website uses plain yogurt and pumpkin puree to make easy and fluffy pancakes. These are a family favorite and a great way to finish off any leftover pumpkin from holiday baking. Use fresh homemade puree or canned, whatever suits you….
Christmas Day is one day out of the year that we really like to relax with the kids and still have a traditional meal while keeping it easy. Ham with all the trimmings is a Christmas Day meal for my family, while Michael’s family does turkey. This year our compromise was to do turkey on Christmas Day and ham on New Year’s Day.
In keeping with the easy and relaxing theme, we decided to cook a whole turkey breast in the slow cooker, which gives a tender and juicy bird and keeps the oven available for baking rolls or pie or whatever else might be on the menu. My inspiration for this recipe comes from Elise’s mom, who makes a great turkey. We’ve used her recipe the last two Thanksgivings with success, and I adapted it for a slow cooker turkey breast.
On Christmas morning I walked out to the garden and cut some sage, thyme, parsley, and oregano, all of which flavored the bird and the gravy….
Inspired by cranberry orange upside down cake, I wanted a good easy hot breakfast for holidays mornings such as Christmas or Thanksgiving when I don’t have much time for a big breakfast. Baking French toast is an easy and delicious way to make it without having to stand over the stove while cooking each slice. The toppings go into the bottom of the pan with the bread and custard on top. To serve, simply scoop out spoonfuls and turn over onto plates. The fruit and juices run down and around the plate, soaking the bread in its goodness. It doesn’t look like much on the plate when everything dumps over, but the spices and the flavors of fresh cranberries, apples, and oranges will make up for its unassuming appearance….
I first found Barbara of Winos and Foodies through her Taste of Yellow event, a celebration of surviving cancer. Barbara really tugged at our hearts with her determination to beat cancer and for taking positive steps to raise cancer awareness, and many of us have participated in Taste of Yellow for the past two years….
Thanksgiving day breakfast is made to be special, especially if you have family or friends visiting, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. In fact, we try to keep breakfast simple on big feast days just because we have so much other cooking business to attend to. Often I make breakfast the night before and warm it up in the morning. Scones and muffins are easy breakfasts that hold up well overnight and taste delicious in the morning with hot tea, coffee, or mulled cider….
When I was a kid thought of upside down cakes as “dump cakes.” You know, you dump the cake out of the pan and stuff runs everywhere. It seemed reasonable at the time, even if it sounded less than palatable to the average ear. My boys think upside down cakes are magic, and I had an audience when I turned this one out onto the serving plate. Top Gun stood as patiently as he possibly could, his eyes big as saucers when I lifted off the pan, and he simply said, “Wow.” Then after tasting a few crumbs he wanted to know when we were having dessert.
I like upside down cakes because the fruit and glaze looks so pretty on the top, and for the most part they are easy to make. You can serve them as is or dress it up for guests with a little whipped cream or ice cream; either way, you have a simple cake that looks beautiful and works well for dessert or brunch.
With cranberries in season, this is an easy and tasty way to use them. The tartness of the berries and the orange juice balances the sweetness of the brown sugar, the orange zest carries on the theme in the cake, and the whipped cream has just a touch of orange flavor with Grand Marnier.
Our kitchen counter is covered with five different types of squash, a few steps up from our normal routine of acorn and butternut squash. On my last squash run, I came home with sweet dumpling, delicata, buttercup, acorn, and butternut and plans for all of them, mostly revolving around roasting and soups. And of course I wanted some photos of the squash pile.
Side dish or dessert? I remember the first time I ordered a side of roasted acorn squash in a restaurant, and I commented on how it was more like dessert than an entree. The restaurant served it with butter and brown sugar, and I had no need for dessert after enjoying that treat. Though I like the sweet treatment with squash, for a meal I prefer a mixture of sweet and savory. Sage is a good flavor to add to roasted squash, and I pulled some fresh from the garden for this preparation. Our sage is still going strong, though we’ve had some freezing nights, and I will have to cut it soon to freeze or dry for the winter….
This week marked the end of the first quarter for school and the teachers had work days to prepare report cards and attend staff development. Oh, how I remember those days! Even though I was an early adopter of electronic grade books—I kept all my grades in ClarisWorks spreadsheets on my first Mac—I always had tons of work to do on those days between quarters. Nothing has changed and teachers still have long lists of things to accomplish on those brief days without students….
The more we grow our own food, the more I understand and appreciate farmers, especially how their lives can revolve around harvesting. As the cold temperatures creep in, I find myself pulled into the garden, collecting what is left of our summer herbs and vegetables, and then back into the kitchen as we preserve what we grew. We’re also busy getting the garden ready for the winter season. We planted tatsoi, which grows even under the snow, and put garlic in the ground last week and have now begun the long wait until it’s ready to harvest in July. I have less time for other things these days, but soon the garden will be in winter low-maintenance mode….
My fondness for chimichurri started back in the early 90s when I was teaching in Colombia. There’s this great restaurant called Andres Carne de Res north of Bogota, and I remember having chimichurri with a steak there. First of all, the steak was one of the best I’d ever tasted (still), the stuffed grilled tomato on the side was fabulous, and the chimichurri just seemed to bring it all together. I seem to remember plenty of cilantro in their chimichurri, which is probably what drew me to it….