Cream of Asparagus and cauliflower soup

cooked roasted cauliflower pureed and added to the asparagus mixture

cooked roasted cauliflower pureed and added to the asparagus mixture

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Asparagus cooked in pan. Cauliflower roasted in the oven. Melted Pecorino cheese with cream, butter and garlic. Cracked pepper. Garnished with steamed kale and fresh lime juice.

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Apple Blintz for Breakfast

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I had the chance to visit my dad and sister in California before the summer’s end. In the morning, I would be awake before everyone else, in part because of the jet lag, and Arlo was ready to rise at about 5 am. Hunger strikes me in a serious way at about 7 pm. My thoughts were exactly this: pancakes, no waffles, no crepes….When Sara arose and we decided to join forces, she informed me that the consequences of putting my whipped cream cheese inside of the crepe would make a Blintz. Yes please.

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Some pink tart apples are finely chopped, squeezed with lemon, and accompanied by some fresh strawberries in skillet.

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For 8 crepes combine 1 cup flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup water, a dash of salt, 1/2 cup milk, 2 table spoons of butter melted. Make sure you butter the surface very well with each crepe. This is very important.

Sara was a crepe master and cooked them to perfection – not too thin so you can flip them.Plan in screwing up the first one. But as in all things in life…learn from your mistakes.

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The tart fruit filling is not incredibly sweet because it is complimented by a sweet whipped cream cheese filling and powdered sugar. I don’t like to over cook it, so there is a slightly crisp texture.

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2 cups of heavy whipping cream, 3 tablespoons of cream cheese, a couple of dollops of sour cream, a drizzle of vanilla extract, and 4 tablespoons of softened butter. Whip it good.

IMG_3530Sara demonstrating her exceptional talent at cooking breakfast while still asleep.

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Build your own blintz…fruits and whipped cream cheese in the center – don’t overfill.

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This dish reminds me of California, light, airy and colorful. Fold over and dust with powdered sugar. Eat while warm. Don’t let baby have any (:

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Golden Energy: beets and nettle tea

Today I needed a healthy dose of yellow. I gathered together my favorite yellow foods, onion, turmeric, beets, lentils, potato and nettle tincture.    yellow beats

Arlo is reaching for a beet and in the arms of his grandma. He won’t eat the red ones but he loves the yellow ones. Milder perhaps? I quartered these and boiled them in an inch of water. Then I ran cold water over them and pushed their peels off easily with my fingers.

yellow1 I found a sweet onion at the market and I could smell its sweetness as I cut into it. I poured some lentils into the pan along with some sesame and peanut oil, and beet water left over from boiling the beets. The lentils will absorb this and become soft in 10/15 minutes.

potato

The veggies also include some shitake from the farmers market and a potato that I thought would be sweet, but it tasted like a pretty average potato to me. I cheated and cooked it in the microwave for 4 min.

turmeric

I used a lot of turmeric, but you can’t go wrong. It is a smokey flavor but not overly rich. It makes everything an even richer golden color. Even the onions turned into beautiful golden transparent wedges. A little dill and cilantro. A few dashes of salt.

yellow dish

Cut up some dried apricots and sprinkle them in if you have them…or golden raisins and almond slivers. I served it with plain yogurt, a nice sour side dish that also helps me digest my food.

nettle ffiled

My mom and I hiked out to the nettle bed at the opposite end of the hay field. We also found some beautiful dried purple Dock. A plant famous for it’s resilience. Arlo was a little runny in the nose from allergies, but he hung in there, literally. The nettle bed has been pushed to the side this year by long grass. You will want to clip the top four or five leaves of the plant, the new growth, so don’t wait too late in the season like I did. An ideal time for nettle is about mid July.

bag o nettle I have heard that indigenous peoples pick the nettle with a special gesture that prevents them from getting stung. I do not know this technique and have tried using rubber gloves, plastic bags and scissors. I walk away with ouchy stings every time.

nettle 2Between me starting my first period since pregnancy and my mom’s hot flashes, the nettle is perfect for balancing hormones and gives us a heavy dose of vitamin D. It is also good for weight loss I hear. I boiled the nettle leaves with lemon balm and spearmint leaves. We soaked the foliage for a few hours in a big steel pot. Then we rinsed and boiled it for about an hour on low. I pulled the leaves out before they turned brownish green.

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Wolfgang Laib

He is one of my most favorite artists. He decided to be an artist instead of a monk. Here he is sifting pollen from hazelnuts that he collected himself. His work is visual medicine. I look at this piece and I am reminded how healing yellow is. Just looking at it I feel energized. In this case, the color and the substance carry powerful meaning, of fecundity and rejuvenation.

Black rice and purple cabbage mash up

I was musing over the mysterious disappearance of black rice from my studio on facebook the other day. It lead to a request from my friend Mickey seeking an interesting black rice dish. It took me a while, but every other week or so I look at the substantial stock of black rice in my kitchen and try to figure out a new way to cook it. Honestly, it originally put me off in the past due to the lack of flavor and rough texture. Since then, my palate has become more sophisticated, I now see black rice much the way the ancient Chinese did, as “food for the emperors”. It is not so bland, as it steams the house fills with a nutty fragrance, exotic and welcoming.

black rice

After steaming the rice, in a separate pan, I cooked carrots and purple cabbage, red onion, fresh ginger and garlic. I think that color has it’s own nutritional value.

cabbage raw

My cat Gertrude has become pretty grumpy since Arlo was born. She doesn’t seem to be the least bit interested in the baby. On the other hand, Arlo is completely in love with her. Like peppy le pew, his eyes turn into little heart shapes and he sings a low humming tune.

Arlo is in love with Gertrude. But she is repulsed. You are another species Arlo.

Arlo is in love with Gertrude. But she is repulsed. You are another species little man.

I chose to use a combination of oils, peanut and sesame. Together the flavor is fairly mild, but also very nutritional. After learning that seeds are packed with essential minerals, I add flax and sesame to salads, and stir fry.

Don't use to much, it will make your texture gummy,

Don’t use too much, it will make your texture gummy.

As you can see the local wild flowers in bloom include black eyed susan and queen anne’s lace.

Ingredients:

  • one cup of black rice cooked in vegetable or chicken broth
  • Four large carrots
  • 1/4 of a small red cabbage
  • half of a red onion
  • one garlic clove
  • chopped ginger
  • peanut and sesame oil
  • fresh lime juice
  • drizzled soy sauce
  • equal parts cayenne, cinnamon, and cumin

 

purple cabbage

I stirred the black rice into the mixture and added some soy sauce (instead of salt), cayenne pepper, cinnamon and cumin (equal parts).

processed cabbagePour about half of the mixture into a food processor to add some complexity to the texture.

cabbage dish

Served with freshly squeezed lime, plain yogurt and marinated artichokes.

Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

The temperature dropped this week, almost freakishly. It got me thinking about Fall and many things associated. We all know that Fall is a time for squash and spices, but is also the time that many of us go back to school, or teach in my case. Not that I dislike working, it brings a full filling structure to life. But this summer has been one to always cherish with my sweet little Arlo. Watching him grow up every step of the way has been a gift I would never have traded for anything.

Arlo has begun to crawl across the floor, wave and play the drum all in the same week. It makes cooking a bit challenging (I probably say this in nearly every post) but I have begun to place him in the pack n play for short periods. He is tolerant for short durations, but today, with his horizontal stripes on he looked like a cartoon prison baby.

Arlo in the Pack n Play

Arlo in the Pack n Play

 

Anti-diabetic, antioxidant Acorn or Winter squash is considered to be one of the worlds most healthiest foods. I heard this once from a woman who ate squash while fighting cancer. It’s just one of those vegetables I think we over look sometimes, in restaurants and at home. There is really no good reason for that, squash is tasty, versatile, filling and affordable.

 

Acorn squash bake while the links simmer

Acorn squash bake while the links simmer

 

I cut the squash in half and set it face up in the oven on 350. There is butter inside the squash and about a half inch of water in the pan. I cooked some hot turkey sausages with a white onion, garlic, and fresh ginger root upstairs on the stove.

Flavors that cooperate: walnuts, ginger, orange zest and juice, raisins, onions, garlic.

Flavors that cooperate: walnuts, ginger, orange zest and juice, raisins, onions, garlic.

 

Biggest mistake that cooks make is throwing things in and tasting at the end. Always taste your food as you go people.

processor blends ingredients so they are a finer ground meat

processor blends ingredients so they are a finer ground meat

I am always a bit skeptical of meat photographs. I mean, who really wants to look at it, especially ground meat. Regardless, I promise you this is a delicious mixture. I put the sausages in the food processor with these other ingredients. I am never exact, you might have figured this out about me by now. I am however, particular about flavor.

  • 2 dash cinnamon
  • dash of clove
  • pinches of dill
  • dash of turmeric
  • handful of walnuts
  • golden raisins
  • hand full of bread crumbs
  • fresh ginger
  • A squeeze of orange
  • orange peel zest
  • Anise seeds
A little water in the pan keeps them moist.

A little water in the pan keeps them moist.

I cooked the squash for about 45 minutes. I removed them from the oven temporarily only to scrape the first half inch layer of cooked squash out, which I mixed with the meat. Next, which is plainly obvious here, I stuffed them heartily. I cooked them for another 30 minutes. Stick a knife in your squash, it should move through like butter, but not fall apart.

with salad

A salad of pickled beets, marinated artichokes, tomatoes, and greens with orange and lime juice freshly squeezed with a little olive oil and salt. The spice mixture in the turkey meat made for a lighter (than beef or pork) yet satisfying meal. The walnuts and spices with hints of orange in the turkey made for a rich but not too overwhelming flavor. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks for being patient Arlo.

 

 

Jail bar peach pie and cauliflower cream soup

I call this jail bar pie because sometimes I feel trapped in my domestic life, even though it is sweet. It was also the result of being a little short on pie dough.

Jail pie before the oven

Jail pie before the oven

These summer days in the country can be a lot of work. But sometimes one just has to say ‘screw it’ and put their feet up. OR, better yet, bake a pie. My mom has been visiting and helping out with baby Arlo, so it has freed me up to do a few extra special things – like indulge in baked goods – not the most ideal for a hot and humid climate. Luckily the pool is also open now and we can drive into town on occasion to cool off. The house cat however can never escape the warmth of her own fur, but she still manages to get comfy.

Gertrude taking the lap while she still can.

Gertrude taking the lap while she still can (baby asleep).

The all butter crust recipes are great, just use your fingers to squish the cold butter and flour together and chill the dough for at least four hours. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/butter-flaky-pie-crust/

cooked pie

I created a mixture of organic fresh peaches ( 3 large) and blueberries, simmered some pure cranberry and cherry juice, cinnamon, and added a mini ‘snowstorm’ of corn starch.

About a half cup of sugar (but this is up to you), created the perfect combination of sweet and tart.

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The potted plants on our porch are thriving with the daily thunderstorms and bright morning sun.

Broiled cauliflower is nutty and delicious.

Broiled cauliflower is nutty and delicious.

Dessert before dinner, can’t help myself. My friend was talking about a cream of cauliflower soup just yesterday and so I decided to try my own. I pretty much winged it but did a little bit of research to discover that Worcestershire sauce takes care of any potential blandness, and does not necessarily even taste like a condiment. What is this stuff but a lovely fermented liquid from back in the 17th century.

White cheddar. Yup.

White cheddar. Yup.

 

I didn’t add a lot of this (maybe a cup and a half?) but it helps with the texture and flavor.

Soup is on.

Soup is on.

 

All in there:

  • 5 large carrots
  • 1 head of orange cauliflower
  • Paprika
  • Dried dill
  • Fresh thyme
  • Lots of black pepper and salt
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 Fresh lime
  • The olive oil and butter that the veggies broiled in
  • 1-2 cups sharp white cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup or 2 of half and half as liquid to puree my veggies in a blender

 

 

 

 

Black eyed pea hummus and thyme flat bread

I made this for a couple of friends that came over a couple of weekends ago – been meaning to post it. I made a hummus with black eyed peas and a flat bread with bits of fresh thyme from the garden.

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In a food processor combine the yeast, sugar, flour, salt and thyme. Pulse to combine. Add the water in a steady stream until the dough begins to form a ball, turn it on to a board and knead with the heel of your hand until the dough is smooth and elastic.Coat a bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl, and cover with a damp cloth. Put in a warm spot to rise until double in size, about 1 hour.When the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough, scrape it onto the counter and knead it lightly into a smooth ball. Cut into 20 pieces and with a rolling pin roll out to form very flat 5 to 6-inch circles.Preheat a stove top grill pan over medium high. Do not oil. Place bread on hot grill and cook without touching it until you see bubbles on the surface, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and continue to cook 1 to 2 minutes more or until bread has puffed up.
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I served the flatbread in a basket with cloth to keep it fresh till guests arrived.
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I soaked these for about six hours prior to cooking. This makes them a bit less gassy if you know what I mean.
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  • Two cups of cooked peas
  • 1/4 cup processed sesame seeds
  • juice from a lemon
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • salt to taste
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
Caroline visiting and cooling off with Arlo.

Caroline visiting and cooling off with Arlo.

Dandelion, I will eat you.

A Eurasian plant (Taraxacum officinale)

A Eurasian plant (Taraxacum officinale)

 

So I took a walk today to explore the many wildflowers that are blooming right now…

flower2Phlox, geranium, violets and wild mustard are painting the fields with the color that my winter encrusted eyes have wishes for for many months.

Duane came from the market with a bunch of freshly harvested Dandelion greens. They were quite mature and I asked myself what we would do with such bitter foliage. I sought some advice from a few internet sites and discovered that the bitter best not be covered up…for it would be no use. Better to join the bitter flavor with other complex bitters.

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I put some fresh ginger in the pan with some peanut oil and then some garlic and onions. Can’t go wrong there. Then I added some soy sauce for salt and a splash of rice vinegar. Some toasted sesame seeds.

rice vinegar

I was also pushing and puling with the flavors of my pan cooked salmon filet. Also fresh ginger, soy, and garlic. You can see a peek of it off to the side here. The honey created a golden color.

detail dandilion

In the end I served them up side by side with some crushed walnuts (also bitter). They bit back a little, but not too hard. It was also really nice to eat them with something else kind of sweet. Sweet!

“I am no more lonely than a single mullein

or dandelion in a pasture, or a bean leaf, or sorrel,

or a horse-fly, or a bumblebee. I am no more lonely
than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the north star,

or the southwind, or an April shower, or a January thaw,

or the first spider in a new house.”

– Henry David Thoreau

 

Pea Soup Please

Peas Please Me

Peas please me.
PEAS RELEASE ME!
Never forget pea.
It’s all about pea.
SO SUE PEA.
Let it pea.
It wasn’t meant to pea.
I need a pea.
Be the best that you can pea.
CAN’T YOU PEA?
What you think you pea is only
What you want to pea.
Eat, drink and pea merry,
For tomorrow we die,
And/or get put in a pie.

http://poemsaboutpeas.wordpress.com

peasoupI made some pea soup, not exciting, not fancy. Just peas with carrots. Lots of pepper. Peas love pepper.

peasSplit peas cook faster than whole peas when dried. Cook them in broth, chicken or veggie. Half of the cooked peas were processed or creamed in a blender and added back into the mixture with cooked carrots, garlic, onion and spices (cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper).

 

Red lentils and black rice with creasy greens

Around this time of the year creasy greens or Barbarea verna (mustard family) show up in large quantities in the lower fields. We had several friends over this past weekend and they all went home with a bag. They taste a little mustardy, a little sweet, a little bitter. Reminiscent of very young collards, but wilder.

It is best to pick them when they’re about to bloom, so they are not quite as bitter.

Our lower field, usually used for harvesting Hay.

Our lower field, usually used for harvesting Hay.

 

They are drooping a little in this picture because we had an unexpected frost last night. Even the narcissus are drooping.

The greens should be picked before the yellow blooms pop.

The greens should be picked before the yellow blooms pop.

Any part of the greens can be eaten, steamed or fresh. You could also cook them into a frittata. The green buds are the sweetest, so I put them into a salad.

Excellent source of vitamin A, K and B2

Excellent source of vitamin A, K and B2

They will keep in the fridge in a freezer bag with a paper towel for 4-5 days.

Black rice is a super food – no gluten, fat or cholesterol.

Black rice is a super food – no gluten, fat or cholesterol.

 

My salad accompanied this delicious dish, with black rice, and red lentils, cooked with red potatoes and portabella mushrooms. The dressing consisted of lemon juice and olive oil with some salt and dried dill.

Put one cup of black rice and one and 3/4 cup of water in a skillet. Bring to a simmer and cover for 35-40 min. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 min.I like to eat my rice with some yummy sour pain yogurt.

The red lentil dish  combines:

  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • a couple of dashes of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • a dash of cumin
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • Peanut oil (or vegetable oil)

potato

I browned the red potatoes and garlic in peanut oil. When tender, I added chopped mushrooms, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt and pepper, red lentils and stock. Covered the pan and let simmer for 15 minutes or until lentils were tender and soft and the stock completely absorbed.