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Posts Tagged ‘food’

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Baby Summer Squash

One of my favorite things about gardening is that you get to watch your food as it grows. First the unrecognizable cotyledons emerge from the soil, giving way to tiny but perfectly formed first leaves. The leaves grow and from the stem emerges more and more leaves, as if by magic. Out of nowhere, flowers appear. With many vegetables and fruit plants, this is where the real enchantment begins. We all know how babies are made, and even with food the process it is essentially the same. The only difference is, you actually get to see the new life form from the very beginning. The most observant will marvel at the miniature version of their anticipated food swelling almost imperceptibly behind the spent flower after fertilization. It’s difficult not to get excited at this point, even though you know that any number of factors may cause the demise of your infantile veggies.

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Baby Bean

At this point there is not much you can do except water your plants and keep close watch, to make sure they are not getting any unwanted attention from the more unsavory garden inhabitants. If you are lucky, your tender young fruits and veggies will continue the soak up the sun and rain and divide their cells in just the right way to become the final, grown-up version of themselves. And that’s when you think back and can hardly believe that they use to be just an inch long and so darned cute.

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Baby Zucchini

But even as they grow, it’s impossible to tell just how they will turn out in the end, which is another wonderful thing about gardening. Instead of the picture perfect produce stacked in pyramids at your local grocery store, the food that emerges from your garden is uniquely shaped by the land and the air and the sun from which it was made. They have a wholesomeness and, almost, a personality gained from the way they were raised and the conditions which were provided to them. (Which makes you wonder how the grocery stores manage to get all their vegetables to look exactly the same.) Real food isn’t perfect; real food is crooked, and knobby, and sometimes not quite the color you were expecting. Real food can’t be stacked perfectly, and isn’t bred for the purpose of surviving cross-country shipments. Real food comes out of the earth, covered in dirt and munched on by bugs. And it tastes damn good.

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Weird Tasty Carrot Mutants

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Today’s mulberry creation is a skillet pie. Compared to my go-to cobbler, the skillet pie has its pros and cons.

The skillet pie involves the use of an electric mixer, which is a decided con in my book. On the other hand, the use of the mixer gives the skillet pie a spongy, cakey consistency that is quite tasty.

The skillet pie involves some tricky maneuvers in which a piping hot and heavy skillet has to be inverted without ruining the contents by dropping them on the floor or counter. With a little forethought and teamwork we were able to manage this. A cobbler involves no such acrobatics.

Admittedly, the skillet pie has a pretty unique look to it, which totally trumps the cobbler’s humble appearance. Plus, making dessert in a skillet gets points for being interesting and a good conversation starter. And if you do accidentally drop a few skillet pies in the course of trying to successfully make one, at least you will have some stories to tell.

Overall, I would say that the skillet pie isn’t my favorite dessert; but it was definitely worth the try.

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With the beginning of the new year I have decided to avoid eating meat whenever possible.  There’s nothing like the challenge of vegetarianism to help you think creatively about food, and to make you more adventurous about food choices, especially when eating out.

For your less daring, stay-at-home nights when you just want something really good and hearty to fill your belly, I present to you my Magical Fruit Soup. This recipe is adapted from one I ripped out of a Martha Stewart magazine, but I like to think that I came up with it all on my own. This is the first soup I ever made that did not come from a can, so I know that any beginner can do it.

Enjoy!

To Make Magical Fruit Soup:

Ingredients:

2 tb olive oil

2 or 3 med carrots, diced

2 celery stalk, diced

1 onion, diced

3 garlic  cloves, minced

1 tb dried thyme

course salt/ground pepper

2 cans (about 4 cups) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

28 oz (2 cans) diced tomatoes, drained

32 oz vegetable broth

¼ cup fresh chopped parsley (optional)

  1. Heat oil in largeish saucepan on medium-high heat. Sautee onion, carrots, and celery about 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  2. Add garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, cook about 3 minutes. Enjoy the aroma.
  3. Add beans and tomatoes, vegetable broth, parsley. Bring to boil.
  4. Reduce heat, simmer for 30 minutes or until carrots are soft.

As long as you don’t mind chopping veggies, this recipe is an easy way to pack tons of fiber and protein into your chilly winter evening. Since it’s even tastier reheated the next day, you can make a big pot to eat all week long. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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In honor of my blog’s 10,000th page view, I wanted to celebrate with 10,000 of something!

Which is why I made this:

It’s like 10,000 tiny celebrations in your mouth! And, it’s quick and cheap and easy to make, not to mention 100% vegetarian and healthy for you even if you do put meat in it. 🙂

Here’s how:

Ingredients

10,000 grains of brown or wild rice (or approximately 2 cups)

4 cups of vegetable broth (or 4 cups water with a dash of salt)

2-3 tbs olive oil

1 onion

5-6 garlic cloves

1 tsp chili powder

1 bell pepper of your chosen color

2 cans (or 3 cups) cooked beans

1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes

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1.Place rice in a pot with four cups of vegetable broth. You could also use water and a pinch of salt, which is cheaper and easier to find.

2.Preheat oven to 225F. Bring rice to a boil for 1 minute. This part is important, as I have learned through experience.

3.Pour the super hot rice mixture into a covered casserole. Get it into the oven as soon as you can (without burning yourself) in order to seal in all that steamy goodness.

4.Set your kitchen timer for 30 minutes.

5.Rinse out and dry your pot for the next step.

6.When the timer goes off, set it for 30 minutes again.

7.Immediately heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.

8.Chop up an onion and sautee it for a few minutes. Add a diced bell pepper and several cloves of chopped garlic, plus a couple dashes of chili pepper. Cook a few more minutes.

9.Stir in a can of diced tomatoes with their juice. Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes.

10.Add in two cans (about 3 cups) of beans. Simmer another 5 minutes to heat throughout.

11.Take rice dish out of oven and mix in the bean mixture. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

Enjoy!

PS–This recipe makes about ten cups of food, so be sure to have some friends or storage containers close by.

PPS–Each serving provides about 10g of protein. Even so, we agree that this dish might taste even more spectacular with a little local venison mixed in. Sorry, Bambi.

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I’m turning into a regular foodie here, it’s ridiculous. But when you discover fresh produce and all its potential, it’s hard not to become obsessed with finding things to make with it.

This healthy and inexpensive eating option was inspired by the Buttered Noodles dish at Noodles & Co. Except, Noodles & Co. will charge you upwards of $6.00, and isn’t as healthy for you as my version. Take that, fine dining.

First you need to choose a noodle. We choose bowtie pasta because it has a fun shape. In my experience, though, it takes more time to thoroughly cook, so if you are really pinching pennies you might stick with egg noodles or macaroni or something that won’t take up as much energy to prepare.

Next, you need a good olive oil. Or even an average olive oil. I’m not an olive oil connoisseur (yet), but the darker, more virginy ones tend to have more flavor, or so I’ve heard.

The toppings are the best part. Here we’ve used a farm fresh tomato, basil picked from our lovely garden, and a bit of shredded parmesan cheese. But it can be equally tasty without the tomato, and using dried crushed basil instead. I wouldn’t omit the cheese if I were you.

So, one or two cups pasta, cooked to your preference.

Optional diced tomato (or perhaps another veggie?).

Olive oil of any type really.

Basil, either chopped fresh or from the spice rack.

Shredded parmesan cheese.

Additional flavorings, such as garlic salt, table salt, etc.

Simply mix the ingredients, and you’re good to go!

Our favorite drink to go with this dish (and any other dish really) is our cold brewed herbal tea:

We get a box of Celestial Seasonings tea bags for about $4.00, which makes about four or five pitchers. Simply fill the pitcher with hot/warm water from the tap, add three or four tea bags (and some sugar at this point, if you really must), and pop it in the fridge to cool and steep. We never take the bags out, they just float around in the pitcher til it’s empty, then they are fed to the worm farm. We prefer any of the fruit flavored teas, though I’m sure a cold-brewed peppermint tea or floral tea would taste great too.

Last time I went to Noodles & Co., I was disappointed in the taste of their buttered noodles. My oily noodly dish is just so much tastier. And cheaper.

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