August 30, 2010

Local and "In Season" Processed Food

Enjoying and preserving the gifts of summer, I processed our food this weekend. 

Two batches of Tumeric Refrigerator Pickles, one made with cucumbers and the other with golden zucchini,

fresh tuna and peaches,

baked some zucchini loaf cake,

steamed some fresh from the garden artichokes,

and made some twice baked potatoes with summer squash and potato stuffing topped with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

August 28, 2010

Stuffed Squash Flowers

The garden is going great.  It provides about a basket a day of a variety of fresh food.  I have lots of herbs drying and really don't have the need to shop for vegetables or herbs right now.  We're only buying fruit at the local produce and farmer's markets and a few things we don't have growing.  I tried to grow some cantaloupe this year and the plants look great, lots of pretty yellow flowers, but so far no fruit. Without a warm spring, most of the plants are producing less and/or later than usual.  I noticed quite a few ears of corn growing and we should have lots of tomatoes ripening soon.

We also have lots of squash flowers and I have heard of them being a great treat to eat but haven't tried them before.  I've read some of the nutritional benefits and they are high in potassium, vitamins B and K, and beta carotene.  Thought I'd try it.  Last weekend my friend and I sauteed some flowers in a little oil and herbs and they were delightful.  Yesterday while in the garden, I picked a variety of squash flowers:  summer, zucchini, spaghetti, crookneck, and pumpkin with the idea of stuffing them with a little cheese and herbs and cooking them. The flowers to use are the male flowers, they grow upright on a stem and don't produce squash.  The female flowers have what looks like a little squash at the base.  You can use those, but that will reduce your squash yield.  Leave a couple male flowers so the female flowers can be pollinated.

I used some herb goat cheese, chevre, and a sliced anaheim pepper, also from the garden.  I scooped the cheese with a little tasting spoon, added a couple small slices of the pepper and made a little ball.  I stuffed this at the bottom of the flower.  I dipped them gently a somewhat thin batter of WW flour and homemade soy milk.  Then I warmed a mixture of sesame and safflower oil in a nonstick pan.  I sliced some garlic cloves and toasted them in the oil with a couple sprigs of rosemary and thyme and removed them when they were crisp and set them aside for garnish. Then I sauteed the flowers in the oil until they were just golden brown.

 I added a little black bean corn salsa and the toasted garlic chips I made earlier and it was a full meal for two. These were so good, this plate didn't make it far.  We just stood here after the photo and had dinner.

August 26, 2010

Artichoke-Chili Bisque and a Little Tree Climbing

Been having some busy days, haven't had time to sit down and blog.  My granddaughter and her mom moved to town, I am so happy about that.  I can see her anytime now and have some good grandma time.  My honey and I spent some time having fun together last weekend, including a visit to the Tree to Tree Adventure Park. This is us 30 or more feet in the air.

I took these swings very slowly, he jumped. Notice, the feet are in the air.

It was a great test of self trust.  I did three courses, my husband did all of them.  Although they make sure you are safe and most people can do this, it is physically demanding.  It's Thursday, we did this Sunday and my arms and thighs are finally not sore.  I am looking forward to doing this again.

What did I make for dinner?

Last weekend we ventured out to Puget Island to a friend's house for dinner.  She's a kitchen witch, not a vegetarian, but a whole foods kitchen witch, a flexitarian. She doesn't use processed foods and when she does prepare animal protein, it's from a local source.  She knows lots about herbs and preparing wild greens.  I'm learning quite a bit from her.  I love to give her vegetables from my garden and then see what she creates with them. We made dinner together Saturday afternoon.  She marinated some fresh tuna fillets, wrapped in bacon, they looked like little fillet Mignon. She seared them gently in avocado oil with a little fresh thyme and sage. She also made a barley salad with black beans and fresh vegetables: corn, zucchini, chilis, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs.  I contributed vegetables for the salad, a dressing made from oranges and tahini, and a fresh artichoke-chili bisque.

Fresh garden salad with Orange Tahini dressing, Vegetable Barley salad, Artichoke-Chili Bisque, and Tuna Fillet
Artichoke-Chile Bisque (Vegan)

10-12 small artichokes, steamed and the outer tough leaves removed
6 roasted Anaheim chilis, skin and seeds removed
1 cup roasted cashews (I roasted raw cashews gently in a saute pan)
3-4 cloves fresh garlic
seas salt, dill, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, and shoyu to taste
3-4  cups filtered water (Start out with 3 cups water then add more depending on the consistency you like, I like it kind of thick.

Blended together until smooth.  This can be eaten warm or cold. 

We also tried sauteing squash flowers for the first time.  I picked a variety of squash flowers Saturday morning, zucchini, summer squash, delicata, and pumpkin.  She sauteed them in the oil from the tuna fillets.  They were pretty fun to prepare, they get puffy again every time you turn them.  I missed getting a picture of them.  They were so good, they didn't last too long.  I have heard you can stuff them, I will try some again soon.

August 15, 2010

Raw Teriyaki Noodles

This is a recipe I found in an issue of VegNews, Sept-Oct. 2008.  I do like this magazine.  I've made lots and lots of good recipes out of this magazine.  They are stored in the kitchen with the cookbooks.  This issue had some recipes I have made over and over again.  The pages are quite tattered.   This is my version of the raw teriyaki noodles.

Raw Teriyaki Noodles

3 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil
     Sesame or hemp oil will work just as well.
2 tablespoons cold pressed pomegranate juice or red wine
2 teaspoons Shoyu
2 tablespoons miso
2 tablespoons raw agave nectar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup hemp seeds, divided
5 zucchinis
     I used a mixture of fresh zucchini, sunburst, and crookneck squash
2 red bell peppers, seeded and minced
     I used banana peppers.  They are in the mild pepper family, but long and slender and yellow in color.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, juice, shoyu, miso, agave, and ginger until well-blended.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of the hemp seed.

Using a Japanese spiralizer or vegetable peeler, make fettuccine-style noodles out of the squash.  In a large bowl, add noodles and red pepper, pour on dressing, and toss gently.  Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons hemp seeds and serve.

Garden Zucchini Pie

Garden Zucchini Pie

Barb and I use to laugh at how we would harvest our fresh, healthy vegetables, steam them ever so gently, and then cover them in butter and cheese.  We knew we weren't eating exactly healthy, but we were going in the right direction anyway.  This is a variation of a recipe I've made for years.  One of my favorites, it's a variation of vegetable quiche.  I used to use milk and sometimes cream, and much more cheese than I do now.  I've slimmed it down by reducing the eggs and cheese and using non dairy milk.  This time I made my own soy milk so I know what is in that, soy beans, filtered water, and a dash of sea salt.  I try not to use eggs too much, but when I do, I use local eggs from free range chickens.

The Crust

3 cups grated potatoes, about five medium
1 beaten eggwhite
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Squeeze potatoes to remove excess water.  In a large mixing bowl combine the egg white, onion, and parmesan cheese.  Stir in potatoes and press into a 9 inch pie plate.  Pat mixture in the bottom and up the sides of the dish.  I like to think of it as building a bird's nest for my pie.  Bake uncovered in a  400° oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on  a wire rack.


2-3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (3-4 cups)
     I used a mixture of zucchini, starburst, and crookneck squash
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
This time I added a diced serrano pepper for a  little extra zip.

3 beaten eggs
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (cheddar or Swiss cheese works well too)
1/2 cup non dairy milk
2 tsp fresh oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Arrange vegetables in cooled potato crust.

In small mixing bowl combine the eggs, cheese, non dairy milk, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Pour on top of zucchini mixture in the crust.  Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Before Baking

After Baking

I had some nice broccoli from the garden and made one with broccoli too.  I left out the serrano pepper on this one just in case my husband didn't like the spicy taste of the zucchini pie.  He didn't say anything and ate three pieces, so it must have been fine.

Broccoli Pie Before Baking

Broccoli Pie out of the oven

Gifts of the Summer

 I'm doing my shopping in the garden now.  I'm pulling out little summer squash, zucchini, artichokes, broccoli, chard, edible flowers, and many herbs.  The green beans are starting to appear and the tomatoes are starting to ripen.  My shopping list this week was short and consisted of small items I needed for the meals I will prepare for the week.  I wanted to make a zucchini pie so I needed some cheese and eggs this week, but most my groceries are coming from my garden or another local garden right now.

I surveyed my fresh groceries and made some pretty fun decisions about what to do with my fresh garden vegetables and the fruit of the season.   I had some organic soy beans in the drawer so I made some fresh soy milk to use in the zucchini pie.  I made some peach preserves sweetened with fresh local honey using Agar for thickener.  I only used a little, I didn't want a jelly consistency, just a thick fruit mixture.

Peach Preserves

I put up some blueberry freezer jam sweetened only with 1 teaspoon of powdered stevia to five pounds of blueberries. To make up for the liquid lost by omitting the sugar, I used one cup of water. I used pectin to thicken this time. It's fruity and sweet and doesn't taste like it's sugarfree.

Sugar Free Blueberry Freezer Jam

These little summer squash all became raw teriyaki noodles.  I'll post the recipe separately a little later. I have a handy little sprializer gadget that turns them into curly long noodles.  Tossed with a teriyaki sauce made from pumpkin oil, pomegranate juice, shoyu, miso, a little agave, and fresh ginger, they become a fresh Asian inspired dish.

Sunburst, Crookneck, and Zucchini Squash picked this morning.

I have some cabbage, four large heads, sliced and wilting in the crock for some homemade sauerkraut.  I also prepared some barley this morning and have been adding some sliced vegetables in throughout the day.   As I used the vegetables in other dishes, I threw the ends and pieces in with the cooked barley.  The barley has fresh cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, squash, peas, and fresh raw corn kernels.  I think I'll add some balsamic vinegar and a dash of chili oil and call it a barley vegetable salad. 

I still want to make something sweet for a dessert.   My friend, Morgaine, made a blackberry custard recently and I have some of the fresh eggs I bought for the zucchini pie left.  I think I'll hunt down that blog and make some peach custard with some of the preserves I just made.  I'll let you know how that works out.

August 11, 2010

Early August in the Garden

Just a little peek at the garden. She's blooming everywhere. There are beautiful herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables popping up everywhere. It's a lovely place to be with or without the sun.  Isabelle has a few friends in the garden now too.  I've included a couple of them, another scarecrow-ess named Betsy and her owl. 

The very pretty shiny object in the garden is a hand made sunburst made out of polished steel by one of our local artists. It is a gift from my friend and sister, Rhonda. I had to stop by the garden and let it shine in the sun for a few moments on the way home.

August 8, 2010

Live Lasagna - Fresh, Local, and In Season

I was inspired by this dish when I planted my garden last year.  I had almost everything to make this dish in my garden last year except the cashews and the garlic.  This year I have homegrown garlic too.  I Can't grow the cashews for the cheeze, but in a couple weeks, I will have most all the ingredients for this lasagna ripe and ready.   I bought some tomatoes and peppers from the local produce store for this one.  They were grown in WA, that's as local as I can get right now and in season.  I've been looking forward to tomatoes this year.  I've been pretty good about not buying them out of season. I have some tomatoes and peppers, but they aren't quite ripe yet. 

Live Lasagna

 This is a raw vegetable lasagna using fresh chard leaves, thinly sliced zucchini, portabello mushrooms, and eggplant as lasagna noodles.  I slice them lengthwise and absorb the moisture between paper towels.

Golden Zucchini slices drying
Portabello Slices drying
The cheeze is made with cashews pureed in filtered water and left in a jar overnight. The next day it's added to: diced red bell pepper, fresh basil, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, green onion, garlic, and jalepeƱo. It's seasoned with sea salt, shoyu, and a dash of crushed red pepper flakes.  It's creamy and zesty and makes a good cheezy filling.

The sauce is very simple, fresh tomatoes, seeded, olive oil, sea salt, shoyu, freshly ground black pepper, and fresh herbs from my garden, basil, oregano, rosemary, and parsley.  I put all but the herbs in the blender and pureed until smooth.  I stirred in the herbs and let it rest awhile.  When my tomatoes ripen, I'll make batches of this sauce and freeze it.

Once I have all three parts prepared, I put it together just like a lasagna in layers.  First the chard leaves, then the zucchini and eggplant slices, half of the cheeze, the mushroom slices, and then sauce.  I repeat this until the pan is full. 

I made some garlic toast with some garlic I roasted in the oven and a dab of olive oil.

Live Lasagna Close Up

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins - Dairy Free

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins
I picked some fresh blueberries with friends Friday afternoon and thought it was time for some simple wholesome muffins. These are made with whole grains and no dairy products.  They aren't considered vegan as they are made with honey.  To make these vegan, just use agave or stevia in place of the honey.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
31/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 cup non dairy milk
1/4 cup fresh local honey
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400°

Combine dry ingredients and make a well in the center to add wet ingredients.  Whisk together honey, non dairy milk, and the melted oil until combined.  Add to the center of the dry ingredients.  Stir just enough to moisten.  Fold the fresh blueberries into the batter.  Spoon batter into lightly oiled muffin cups.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Dairy Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake

It's that time of year, zucchini will be everywhere soon.  We have four kinds of zucchini ripening in the garden:  golden yellow, black beauty, eight ball zucchini, and the usual small green zucchini's that most of us see all the time.  I've incorporated shredded zucchini in our pot of beans this week, put together a raw lasagna using the zucchini sliced thin as lasagna noodles, and made some chocolate zucchini cake.  I used garbanzo bean flour and no dairy products. This little cake contains whole grains, protein, fresh vegetables and raw agave. It has a rich chocolate taste, you'd never know this was good for you.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2/3 cup raw agave
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
Egg replacer for two eggs
     I use one from Bob's Red Mill, it's made with soy flour, wheat gluten, corn, and Algea, a seaweed food.  You can use ground flax seed and water as an egg replacer.  It works great.
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
3/4 cup w/w flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups finely shredded zucchini
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

In a mixing bowl I sifted the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl I whisked together the agave, oil, and egg replacer until blended.  I added the wet ingredients to the dry and folded in the zucchini.  The batter is very thick.  I added just a little water, a few drops at a time until the batter was the consistency I wanted.  I poured them into one of my little cake molds, and baked for about 25 minutes.  I mixed 1 teaspoon powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder and sifted on top of the cake for a sweet touch.

Fresh and Simple: Salmon, Artichokes, & Potato Salad

I love this time of year, everything is so fresh and available.  It's so easy to prepare fresh food, in season, and local.  I can stop by the garden once a day to pick herbs and vegetables now.  I  didn't even need to go to the farmer's market this weekend.  I gather my vegetables and decide what I'm cooking when I get home and survey the ingredients.  Last night I roasted a fresh Salmon Fillet in an agave-mustard glaze, steamed some tender little artichokes from the garden, and made a vegan potato salad.

  A very simple, but flavorful meal.  I whisked about 1 tablespoon grainy mustard with 1 tablespoon raw agave and a dash of red pepper sauce.  I brushed the glaze mixture on the fresh salmon  with a pastry brush and sprinkled some fresh rosemary from my garden. I cut up some small onions I picked just yesterday in half and placed them face down in the pan and on the salmon.  The long green stems sliced and sprinkled on the fish. I roasted this in my oven with the convection fan on to evenly cook everything, for about 35 minutes at 350°.

Before Roasting
After Roasting

The vegan potato salad was also fairly simple.  About 2 lb of little red potatoes, quartered and simmered in water and sea salt for about ten minutes.  A small diced red onion, diced stalks from the rainbow chard, garlic, parsley, about 2 TB sweet pickle relish, half a diced red bell pepper, 2 oz. flax seed oil, 1 oz. homemade garlic chili oil and sea salt to taste. Toss it all together and chill.

August 7, 2010

Natural Order by Ma Muse

We had the pleasure of listening to Ma Muse live Tuesday night in Portland.  These versatile musicians demonstrate the message that some people are born to sing.  Their music is warm, uplifting, and spiritual.  I am sorry I couldn't schedule a house concert in my backyard garden.  That would have been quite a treat, maybe on their next journey to the northwest.

Many thanks to my friend Glenn Smith for introducing me to their lovely music.


August 5, 2010

Roasted Teriyaki Tuna

Rachel shared a fresh, never frozen, loin of tuna with me. What a lovely gift. This is what I did with it.

I have a roasted elephant garlic bulb that I roasted last weekend. I squeezed out a large clove of the roasted garlic paste and rubbed it all over a fresh loin of tuna. Then I marinated for about 40 minutes in teriyaki sauce. I added some chopped fresh pineapple, some small onions from the garden, and some sea salt. I roasted it for about 40 minutes. Served it with some slightly sauteed fresh golden zucchini, a couple thick sliced yams, some more fresh onions, the rest of the fresh pineapple, and some chopped fresh parsley. Garnished with fresh raw beet greens.

For dessert, I partially thawed some frozen Rainier Cherries. They're like little cherry popsicles. Great for a warm summer evening.

August 4, 2010

A Pearl in the City

We drove our granddaughter home, north of Seattle, Saturday.  It can be a long day, three and a half hours one way.  Both of us have back issues and need to stop at least every hour, sometimes more after a few hours of driving.  It takes us about nine hours or more to do the round trip.   We like to make some fun out of it and try to take little exploratory stops off the freeway at least once.  One of our stops was right off the highway in downtown Tacoma.  We wandered around a little bit and had an early dinner at a nice little vegan cafe.  It was late Saturday afternoon and downtown was very quiet.  There was no traffic and we had lots of room to roam and look around.  We came across a little community garden.  This was a very creative little spot.  The wall mural is right around the corner from the garden.  

Garden Update

It seems summer is harder to take time to edit pictures and blog.  I am much busier in the summer.   I cook less, but there is work to be done to preserve all the wonderful fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs growing everywhere this time of year.  We're having some fun in our garden now.  Everything's growing strong and I am bringing home different fresh vegetables  and herbs everyday now.  If I am not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen cleaning and preparing our bounty for our own use as well as others'.

One of the great gifts of the garden is the ability to give food away daily.  Soon, there will be an abundance of tomatoes, corn, beans, and zucchini.  There is more than enough for us and I can give vegetables to my friends, coworkers, people I do business with in town, complete strangers, the Alanon clubs, and the church around the corner.  This church gives food to whomever needs it every Thursday.  I love giving them my vegetables.  There was a time when the boys were small that we were in that very line of that church on a couple Thursday mornings.