Sunday, June 19, 2016

Thoughts While Gardening; Another TIP; Recipes!

Some random thoughts while tending the gardens

I don’t know about you but I am of the opinion that individual exercise regimens, like individual religious practices, should be a private affair. There’s way too much about both all over social media,and sometimes even in person. I propose that all of these discussions go the way of food sensitivity explanations. Let’s talk less about fantasy and more about reality!

An unrelated thought.  We belong to “Angie’s List”.  It has proven to be a good move - our home is old, and while we do a lot ourselves, plumbing and electricity are pretty much out of our range.  Every month a little magazine comes from “Angie”.  The feature article in the June edition gave detailed instructions on how to get to know your neighbors. This is not written for those who have just moved into an area. It is based on the premise that most of us don’t know - or know much at all - about those we live around.  The author gives us three “whys’ as to the value of making the effort:  1.  Relationships matter; 2.  Conversations matter; and 3.  Knowledge matters. Yes!  True.  All of it.  That said, is there something seriously wrong when we need a primer and guidance in order to consider what it takes to know, speak to, and occasionally help or ask for help from our neighbors?  You be the judge of that one.  I’ll just enjoy the fact that in our little urban block, you don’t get away with isolating yourself.   

Homesteading Hint

Ball or Mason jars with screw on lids are so useful for so many household purposes.  In addition to canning foods, pickles and jams for our larder, we  probably use them the most for short term food storage - so leftovers of homemade soups, instead of going into something plastic, goe into a big jar. So do gravies, sauces, fruit salads, my cold brewed coffee, you name it - we probably store it in a jar.  The issue becomes how to get those jars clean and free of any of the aroma of their former contents.  We of course want to use them over and over, and avoid waste.  Well, thankfully, it could not be easier. When a jar is empty, just put 2 - 3 tablespoons of white vinegar into the jar, screw the cap on and swish it around a bit.  Let the jar sit with the vinegar in it for a few hours or overnight if the aroma is strong.  Then just dump the vinegar and wash the jar as usual.  Another effective use for our household buddy, plain old white vinegar.

Early Summer Recipes:  

Recipe:  “Strawberry/Peach Tart” 

Note:  You can use whatever fruit or fruits you have in season or canned or frozen.  The original uses pears.  (Adapted from Marcella Hazan’s “A Farm Wife’s Fresh Pear Tart”)


Three large eggs
!/2 cup whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar - you can substitute Sugar in the Raw 
A pinch of Kosher salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Two pounds of fruit (for the one pictured I used fresh local strawberries and peaches we had canned in water in the Fall)

A nine inch round cake pan
Butter for greasing the pan and butter for dotting the cake


Preheat oven to 375 degrees for conventional and 350 for convection

Beat the eggs and milk together in a bowl
Add the sugar and a pinch of salt and continue beating the mixture
Add the flour and the baking powder and mix thoroughly into a batter
Drain (if necessary) and cut the fruit you are using into medium sized pieces 
If you are using multiple fruits, mix them together and add them to the batter
Butter the cake pan generously 
Pour the fruit batter into the pan; give it a couple of good raps on the counter to even it out
Dot the top of the batter with little bits of butter here and there (you can start by making tiny indentations with your finger and drop the bits of butter into those)

Bake for 50 minutes (Conventional) or Bake for 45 minutes (Convection)
When it is done, and still lukewarm, loosen the tart around the edges and either flip it over onto a plate and back top side up onto another plate OR slide a spatula under it.  I use the two plate approach - it just works better for me.  If you turn it out onto a plate, give a few raps to the bottom of the cake pan to help release it.

When you have the tart on your serving plate, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

It is delicious warm or at room temperature


Recipe:  “Zucchini Logs stewed in olive oil with Greens and Onions”

Note:  This recipe is adapted from Deborah Madison.  You can use whatever combination of other vegetables with the zucchini.  Again this is more technique than recipe.


Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish
1 yellow onion - sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 large clove of garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped sweet marjoram or oregano (we used a teaspoon of each, fresh)
1 1/2 pounds of zucchini - cut into “logs” - just halved lengthwise if small and about 11/2 to 2 inches long
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
8 Swiss Chard leaves, coarsely chopped (we used 4 -5 chard leaves, 2 - 3 kale leaves, and 2 large mustard leaves.  We do not remove the stems of fresh leafy greens; Madison does)
1/2 cup water or stock (we used no salt chicken stock)


In a large wide pan with a tight fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onion, the garlic and half of the herbs.
Cook - stirring occasionally until softened, about 4 minutes
Add the zucchini logs, stir to coat with the olive oil, season with pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Lay whatever leafy greens you are using over the zucchini and sprinkle a few pinches of salt over. 
Add the stock or water, cover the pan and lower the heat.

Cook gently until the zucchini is tender - about 20 - 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and stir the leafy greens into the zucchini - gently - and add the remaining herbs
Re-cover and cook for another few minutes
Taste for salt and pepper, drizzle extra virgin olive oil over and serve.

Note:  We used a vegetable peeler to drop shavings of parmesan cheese all over the top.  It’s a delicious addition.

Recipe:  “What’s in the ‘Fridge Frittata”

We’ve been perfecting our Frittata technique for a number of years now.  It is worth it to have your own favorite technique for these delicious and versatile egg dishes.  The best Frittata results from clearing the ‘fridge and your larder of left over vegetables, cheese, herbs, peppers and potatoes.

Ingredients (this will make a frittata for 4 or for 2 with leftovers for lunch the next day.  This time around I used two all clad baking pans to make individual frittata but it is just fine to use your favorite omelet pan  The pan just needs to be deep enough to hold all of the ingredients - and they will “puff” up a bit.)

6 large farm eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup regular flour
Salt and Pepper
2 - 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter 
1 cup of cheese, grated or cubed; one cheese or, even better, a mix of cheeses
For the pictured Frittata I used a mix of fresh mozzarella, some gruyere and some parmesan

Vegetables:  decide on what you are using and chop the vegetables a bit.  For the Frittata pictured I used tomatoes, cooked leafy greens, mixed herbs from the garden, some roasted red peppers and very thinly sliced spring onions


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

Generously butter whatever pan or pans you are using
In a large bowl or mixing pitcher, beat the eggs until frothy
Add the milk, the baking powder, and the flour
Whisk vigorously
Add a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper
Add whatever vegetables and herbs you are using to the mixture and stir
Add whatever cheese or cheese you are using and stir

Pour the mixture into the pan and level it off
If you’d like (and I like) add some bits of butter around the top of the mixture
Bake for about 25 minutes or until the a toothpick in the center comes out clean or nearly clean - I tend to take it out of the oven and let it sit a bit when the center is almost done.  But if you like your eggs cooked through - look for that toothpick to be clean. 
Enjoy hot or at room temperature!

Cherish Real Food!

No comments:

Post a Comment