Garden Bounty

IMG_0583Our little garden continues to grow!  I thought our tomatoes would never get ripe and now suddenly, they are ALL deciding to be ripe.  I’m glad I didn’t put more plants in-I’m the only one that eats tomatoes around here.  I picked those tomatoes and wee eggplants about 2 weeks ago and they were delicious.

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Here’s the tomato crop I’m working with, but I just walked out into the backyard and there’s about 7 more tomatoes I could pick.  I need to start coming up with creative ways to eat tomatoes, although these are pretty perfect with just salt and pepper.

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This monstrosity grew in the garden as well.  I have no clue what kind of squash this is.  It’s a mystery!  I will continue researching to see if I can figure out what kind it is.  All I know is that this is definitely a summer squash because the outside skin is soft, not hard like an acorn or butternut squash.  I ate one a few weeks ago and the inside is soft and has big, white seeds, like a zucchini.  Any squash experts out there?

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We have some yellow crookneck squash growing as well.  More summer squash, since we obviously don’t have enough.  I picked some really fertile plants apparently.

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This is my favorite!  It’s a Jack Be Little pumpkin and it’s so tiny and cute!  I hope it grows to full size before the weather start to get too cold.  I want to set it out on our porch for a little while before we eat it!  It is Autumn here, despite it being almost 80 degrees today.  Can’t complain too much about warm weather though.  I’d take this over snow any day.  Our tree in the front yard thinks it’s time for Fall.  My boots are also waiting to be dusted off and walked through dry leaves again.

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More Fermenting Adventures: Cabbage

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Gena just posted an awesome tutorial on how to ferment vegetables, which is something I’ve been wanting to try.  I’ve got the kombucha fermenting down, but it’s time to try my hand at some solid food fermentation.  I decided to try making a tiny jar, in case something went wrong.  This jar had green cabbage, two garlic cloves and a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes.  I packed all of this very tightly into a pint jar and filled with a salt water solution.  1/2 a tablespoon of salt to 2 cups of water is the ratio I used.  The rest is easy, just put it a warm place and leave it alone for a few days.

Fermentation station.

Fermentation station.

I fondly refer to this cabinet in our apartment as the “Fermentation Station.”  I’ve been fermenting all of my kombucha in here and now the cabbage.  That’s my giant kombucha mother on the bottom shelf.  My cabbage fermented for about 3 and half days before I liked the way it tasted.  It started bubbling and hissing about 12 hours in, which I found fascinating.  It’s like a science experiment!  Fermenting is pretty cool stuff.

This cabbage is pretty close to sauerkraut, but it probably tastes a little different than what you’re used to with store bought cabbage.  The cabbage stays a little crisper when it ferments this way and it’s also got a stronger taste.  I find the salty, sour and slightly spicy cabbage to be just delightful.  The addition of garlic was also a good choice.  It’s flavor mellows significantly when it’s fermented for a few days and adds some complexity to the flavor of the cabbage.

IMG_1378A few things I noticed while I was fermenting this:

  • I will add less water next time.  The cabbage started to rise as it fermented more and pushed the water level up.  When the fermentation started happening, the bubbling got a little out of control and started leaking out of the jar.
  • Just know that during the fermentation process it may smell slightly strange in your house, especially if it’s small like ours.  My cabbage put off a very strong odor while it was fermenting, which didn’t bother me too much, until the last night it was going.  It was the strongest then.  I’m not sure how you could correct that, maybe wrapping it in a towel to hold the smell in.  Or, if you live in a larger space, it may not be such a problem.

We’re running  a little low on groceries, but after I go shopping today, I’ll have more stuff to eat my cabbage with.  I think my next experiment is going to involve carrots and cumin seeds.  Thanks for the fermenting tutorial, Gena!

Honey Mustard Tempeh

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I love, love tempeh.  It’s my second favorite vegetarian protein to eat.  (Chickpeas will forever be my most favorite plant protein.)  I could eat tempeh directly out of the package, but it really shines when it’s roasted.  Tonight, I coated ours with honey mustard dressing, from Katie’s blog.  The only thing I did differently was add a splash of apple cider vinegar to give it some acid.  I like my dressings pretty acidic.

It was delightful!  The tempeh got golden brown with toasty edges and had the slightest hint of mustard.  I let them go slightly too long in the oven, which turned out to be a happy accident because the bottom was covered a delicious crust.

IMG_1331I ate the tempeh with quinoa and massaged kale salad.  That’s pickled ginger on my plate with the tempeh and quinoa.  It’s part of my plan to incorporate more anti-inflammatory foods into my diet.  The kale salad had the juice of half a lemon, shredded cabbage, black olives, a glug of grapeseed oil, a whole avocado and a generous sprinkle of salt.

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Delicious, healthy and vegetarian.  I’m not completely vegetarian, but I really like eating plant based meals like this.  It makes me feel invincible!

 

Minestrone Soup (Sort Of)

 

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Boulder has been having Arctic conditions for the last week or so. Like, it doesn’t get above 20 degrees all day and when I wake up, it’s 5 degrees. Yes, I am whining, but damn. When the cold seeps through my heaviest coat and my car doesn’t warm up until I’m parking at work, I’d consider that cold worthy of talking about. The obvious solution to this cold is to make soup, like this one. I’m calling it Minestrone, but it’s not really. It has chickpeas in it, and probably a host of other ingredients that aren’t in traditional Minestrone. It’s still delicious, healthy and satisfying, no matter what it’s called! Add some grated cheese and a slice of crusty bread on the side and you’ve got yourself a perfect meal for a frigid night.

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Minestrone, Sarah Style

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unflavored oil, like grapeseed or canola.

Half a medium white onion, diced

2 large carrots, diced

5 stalks of celery, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

I teaspoon anchovy paste

1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes

2-3 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup kidney beans

1/2 cup garbanzo beans

2 cups whole wheat pasta

Directions:

  • Heat pot over medium heat. Add oil.
  • Add diced onions, carrots, celery and sauté until onions and celery are translucent.
  • Add garlic, anchovy paste and then Italian seasoning. Sauté briefly and then add crushed tomatoes. Fill tomato can roughly half way with water and add to pot.
  • Add 2 cups vegetable broth, and beans. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
  • Add pasta and cook until pasta is cooked to your liking. Add reserve vegetable broth with pasta if you wish your Minestrone to be more soupy.

Enjoy this tasty soup! It’s rich from the tomatoes and anchovy paste and filled with vegetables to make you feel good after an induglent end to the 2012. I really liked the addition of pasta to this soup; as it cooked, it soaked in the broth and made the pasta taste better than pasta cooked in just water.

The options are endless here too. Use different beans, vegetables, the sky’s the limit! If you want to make this vegetarian, leave out the anchovy paste. Add red pepper flakes if you want it spicy.  Get creative!

Chipotle Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins

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Although it is 60 degrees in Boulder during the day these days, the season of root vegetables and winter food has begun.  This is my first attempt at making stuffed potato skins and I was pretty pleased with the result.  They’re wholesome, subtley sweet and little smokey from the chipotle salsa.  Perfect for a cool (warm?) Autumn evening.

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes

1 medium size yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chile powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup frozen carrot/pea mix

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

1 15 ounce can black beans, drained

1 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained

1-3 tablespoons chipotle salsa, depending on how spicy you like your food.

salt and pepper to taste

Shredded cheddar cheese, any kind.  I used Cabot, Seriously Sharp.

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Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  When hot, place sweet potatoes inside and bake until easily pierced with a knife.

2. Heat pot at medium heat.  Add oil, and when the oil starts to ripple, add onion.  Sauté until translucent and fragrant.

3.  Add cumin, chile powder and paprika to onions.  Allow oil to cook spices for a few minutes, until they start to smell.  Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer on low heat.  Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Cut cooked sweet potatoes in half and scoop the flesh from the half, being careful to leave the skin whole.  Chop up the flesh of two of the sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces and add it to the bean mixture.

5.  Scoop bean mixture into sweet potato skins, trying to divide the mixture as evenly as possbile between the skins.  Cover with shredded cheese and more salsa and place in the oven.  When the cheese has melted, take them out of the oven and top with desired toppings, sour cream, cilantro, guacamole.

Notes: These can be made vegan by omitting the cheese and using an animal free product for topping.

Use the leftover sweet potato insides for oatmeal the next morning.  I chopped up half of one and added it to mine this morning and it was tasty!

Enjoy!

Brunch at the Bellagio

Welcome to Las Vegas!

Champagne at brunch? Don’t mind if I do!

I arrived here around 3 pm yesterday and was immediately whisked off to the rehearsal dinner for the wedding we’re attending today.  What a gorgeous location the wedding will be at!  I got to meet some more of Steve’s friends and watched them practice the wedding entrances and exits.  I’m betting that I will get a little teary when I see Steve in his tux.

We got up and went to brunch at the Bellagio this morning.  We had the champagne brunch which was fun; we are on vacation after all!  Buffets are always a little overwhelming for me, but I decided to stick with seafood this morning.  We don’t eat a lot of seafood because of its price, but I went to town this morning.

Clockwise on the plate I had shrimp, a small piece of beef tenderloin, a bran muffin, dried figs, pickled herring salad, cheddar cheese, calamari salad, smoked scallop and wild rice salad, cream cheese with lox, capers and a tiny bagel.  That was only plate one.  Lox are probably my most favorite food in the world and it was a real treat to have some this morning.  The pickled herring salad was incredible too; my dad used to eat pickled herring with crackers and I think I inherited his love of it.  Those smoked scallops were something else too.  Absolutely delightful!

Bran muffin with pineapple

I liked the presentation of this muffin with the paper around it.  The hunks of pineapple in the muffin were a delicious addition to it.  Next up were plates two and three.

The boys made fun of me for my massive salad that I made.  Am I the only person who gets excited by a multitude of ingredients to create a salad?  Probably, but the odds of us having this many ingredients in our fridge to make a salad are pretty small.  Yes, I still eat vegetables on vacation.

Clockwise: caramelized peaches, smoked trout, more pickled herring and udon noodle salad.  The smoked trout was good, but I liked the lox better.  The udon noodles were pretty tasty too, but the stand out here was the caramelized peaches.  They still had a little bite to them and were swimming in a perfect sauce.  I would have eaten more, but I was starting to get pretty full.

Now I’m just digesting all my food and waiting for Steve to get back with our rental car.  We need one to drive to the wedding later.  I’ve got me feet up and I’m staring up at a giant sign of David Copperfield, who’s picture I’m a little tired of seeing everywhere.  Is he really that cool?  I don’t know.  I’m so happy to be here and relaxing!

On the way up to the 9th floor.

The Return of the Juicer

 

I’ve been juicing again this week.  I always feel like I have to buy every vegetable under the sun and then juice them, but need not be so complex.  Or expensive.  Simplicity has lead me back to juicing and I love it.  This is my combo tonight:

  • 5 carrots (orange)
  • 1 small apple (red)
  • 1 lime (green)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger (yellowish)

This juice a delightful and energizing combination that makes me feel invincible after I drink it.  It’s always surprising to me how much juice is in carrots.  I made about 1 cup of juice and at least half of it was carrot.  I’ve never put a lime in my juice and that was a pleasant addition too.

 

Welcome back, juicer!