Thursday, August 16, 2012

Celebrating Julia Child

I'm in a bit of running slump right now. I"m in the third week of my 10k training plan, and I'm just struggling. Just having runs where I feel worn, tired, lunky, and just plain bleeeh. Running is never easy, but right now it feels so hard.

I'm trying to tell myself it could be the heat or just normal running slump. But it's frustrating. Hopefully i can ride it out and it'll improve. Just frustrating!

So, onto food which is more fun. The other night I did my favorite soba dish. This was one of my favorite adaptation because:

1. I roasted A LOT of eggplant to put into it.
2. The raw green beans and crunchy yellow zucchini hit the spot.

Yesterday for lunch, I had one my favorite things....Summer Salad! I'm going to miss having such wonderful ingredients for salads when summer is over. It is so easy to make such a fresh, beautiful, delicious salad in summer. I threw a big glob of hummus on this and ate with some pita. Totally hit the spot. Seriously, you just can't find a tomato that color in the winter.

Included was....
Red leaf lettuce
Green beans
Heirloom Tomato
Yellow Zucchini
Green Pepper

Yesterday would have been Julia Child's 100th bday. I adore her. And it made me so happy to see this as the google homepage photo yesterday. I watched a bunch of videos on the pbs website of her show The French Chef to celebrate. She is one fabulous lady!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weekend Musings

Saturday was hot and heavy.

Hot because it was very humid and I spent the first 6 hours of my day outside.

Heavy because there was a lot of lifting of corn bags and crates of vegetables to be done.

That all means I was working at the Farmer's market on Saturday. Hot and heavy, but lovely despite it. For these reasons:

1. I was outside (and under a tent, so not too bad)
2. I got to play with veggies all day.
3. I came home with a giant bag of veggies for the week!
4. Got in my workout for the day, while getting paid :)

My favorites are the cherry tomatoes. We have about 7 or so varieties we sell. So sweet and beautiful to look at. The strangest thing is that winter squashes and apples are appearing at the market. I love fall, but it just feels to early!

As much as I love fall, the end of summer means that the school year is gearing up. My students are great, but it means longer, more intense days. Gotta get myself mentally prepared. But for now I"ll enjoy the last few weeks of summer...and the deliciousness that comes with it.

I came home with a bag full of:

  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Sun gold cherry tomatoes(the best)
  • Eggplant(Japanese and Calliope)
  • Cukes
  • Plums and Peaches
  • Garlic
Cooking plans for the week include:

1. Big salads of all those glorious items
2. Soba Noodles with veggies
3. Ratatouille(depending on how hot it is this week)
4. Dill potato salad end the weekend I got to eat some delicious pasta at my parent's house. Full of chicken sausage, artichokes, olives, capers, and tomatoes! Yum! And play with my favorite cat friend. She is also very distraught that the Olympics are over :(

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Soba it up!

Last week and part of this week was filled with eating out. We had family in town so that included some delicious meals out, and a yummy bbq at my parent's house. What is better than hotdogs, homemade potato salad and coleslaw, and blueberry cake!

My mother is the best cook around! But I miss being in the kitchen and cooking it up. So today I went to the farmer's market downtown. I grabbed all the good stuff I could get my hands on. It was late, because I went after work, so they were low on some things. But I got...

  • Japanese Eggplant
  • Pattypan squash
  • Yellow Peaches
  • Cucumbers
  • Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes
  • Field Tomatoes
  • Basil 
I could eat sun gold tomatoes all day, every day.

 I used most of the items for salads and munchies for hummus dipping. I threw together another batch of pesto(previous post for recipe) to freeze.

** If you get basil and don't plan to use it right away, a great way to extend its life is to put it in a glass of water(like flowers) and leave it in the fridge.

One of my newest(last few months) dish to make for dinner is soba noodles. I used to eat them when I was young and then rediscovered them. They are so versatile AND great chilled in the summer. Robert and I have been eating this dish at least once a week for the past few months. The great thing is that you can throw anything in. I stick to the same marinade/sauce, but just put in whatever veggies I have around.

Sadly I completely forgot to photograph this dish last night. I stuffed it in my mouth too fast and then realized I hadn't grabbed a shot. Next time, I promise!

Soba with tofu and veggies:
Dressing: For the dish AND as a marinade(for tofu and roasted veggies):
**This is enough for a serving that uses a little of half a pack of soba (about 3-4 servings)
  • 1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or 1/2 fresh clove minced)
  • 3 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Added salt and pepper to taste
Veggies in the mix this time(can be changed based on what is available):
  • Kale- julienned in slivers
  • pattypan squash
  • green beans
  • scallions
  • edamame beans
Cooked ( I just lightly cook these in the oven at 350 F until done; the eggplant takes longer than the mushrooms so I pull them out first)
  • Mushrooms- crimini
  • Eggplant
Other Suggestions(raw or cooked): Zucchini, roasted garlic, tomatoes, bok choy, cabbage.

  •  Press tofu under weights(between paper towel) for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Slice tofu into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • Dip each slice in marinade (or marinate tofu in sauce overnight for better results)and place on baking sheet
  • Bake tofu at 350 F for about 40 minutes (or until lightly browned) flipping after 20 minutes.
  • Let tofu cool and then cut into cubes.

Put it all together:
  • Combine noodles, veggies, and tofu.
  • Dress noodles with about 3/4 of the dressing.
  • Place in fridge to chill.
  • When chilled, add the rest of the dressing to the noodles and combine(often when the noodles chill they clump together, so the extra dressing loosens things up)


Friday, August 3, 2012

Beans that are a good way.

It's hot here. The Northeast is humid and feels like a sweat lodge right now. Despite this, I was determined to make a batch of pickled spicy green beans...a.k.a. mean beans. I have accumulated a bunch of beans and need to pickle them up!

I don't can the pickles, because I find that doing the traditional water bath canning method affects the texture of the pickled items (either cukes or beans). Also, we eat these fast! Instead you can make "refrigerator" pickles After you jar them, you let them sit in the fridge for 3-4 days, and then crack them open. They stay good in the fridge for 3-4 weeks. And we eat them in about a week, so there is no need to worry. I"m sure you'll eat them just as quickly.

I got a mix of green beans and yellow wax beans. You can really use anything.

Wash and dry the beans. Then cut off the ends.  For jars, the store I went to only had 1/2 pint mason jars, so I used them. Because they are small I had to cut most beans in half. You can use any size jar for these.

I wash and dry the jars first. I don't know if this is necessary but I like to do it.

Then I make the "pickling liquid":

  • 2 1/2 cups white vinegar (with 5% acidity)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup salt

*Mix in a pot and bring to a boil.

While that is boiling I put in my flavorings. I call these means beans because they are spicy. But you can do whatever flavor combos you want. I'm not a huge spicy fan, but these have a nice heat. If you like a bit of heat, but not burning, this amount should work for you.

In each jar I put...

  • 1/4- 1/2 tsp Cayenne
  • 1 tsp dried dill or 1 sprig fresh dill
  • 1 clove garlic

Then, I pack in the beans. You need to leave about 1/2 inch of headspace in the jar. The liquid should cover the beans and still leave that 1/2 inch of space in the jar. When liquid starts boiling, ladle it into jars. The liquid should cover the beans.

Then wipe the jars and edges, put on the lid, and screw on the jar band. Let them sit on your counter until they are at room temp, and then place them in the fridge.  After 3-4 days, crack them open!

AND when you are done with the beans, keep that brine. It is SO good for Bloody Mary's, dressings, and lots more!

We went through the last batch in 1 week, so I'm counting the hours until these will be good and ready to crunch into. Maybe some snazzy Bloody Mary's with the last batch's brine will be used this weekend.....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Trying to embrace the summer heat

Despite the humidity I am enjoying summer this year more than I usually do. I haven't been to the beach much, which is the one thing I'd like to improve over the next month.

Part of my summer enjoyment might be that after an exhausting year with middle school students, the summer feels like a much needed relief. I also can't get enough of the summer foods. I just want to walk around farmer's markets all day and make food with/eat everything I see.

That being said, fall is still my favorite season. Crisp autumn days cannot be beat by this gross humidity.

Tuesday I stumbled upon a Farmers Market downtown. Well, not really "stumbled". More like I knew it was happening, and took a longer route home to go to it. Totally worth it. It was glorious. One of the vendors has the most beautiful displays of their beautiful vegetables. They are the farm that is partners with one of my favorite restaurants, and uses the vegetables in their amazing middle eastern dishes.

The veggies are always great from there. But I think I'd buy them anyways just based on the displays. They have quite the veggie artist/sales team at that vendor.

I had to remind myself that my fridge is still full, so I just got some blueberries and basil. I kept the buying under control. That basil is going into a nice batch o' pesto. Yum!  I'm not a fan of super oily pesto, so I've adapted my method to get it tasty and fairly smooth, but without lots of oil.

This makes enough to coat pasta to serve 4, or 2 batches to serve 2. I always add some arugula for some bite, and sometimes kale.

4 cups basil leaves
1 cup arugula
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (sometimes a little more based on taste)
1/4 cup nuts (walnuts are my favorite but any work)
3 Tbsp EVOO (more if you like it creamier)
1 Tbsp water
pepper and salt to taste

Blend in food processor until at desired consistency.
** I like to add the oil through the top spout on the food processor as I pulse it. Slowly add as you blend.

I apologize for the low low quality photo. The camera phone doesn't quite capture the pesto pasta goodness. Doesn't look too great, but tastes oh so good.

Robert's brother is in town so there may not be too much cooking this coming week. We'll see what happens. I'll find some ways to make the boys some veggie dishes.

Off to finish this grant so I can do some gym time. Got in "Week 1, Day 2" run for the 10k training plan yesterday, so I'm gonna do some cross training and circuits today. Goal: Do lunges without tripping/falling over in gym like the other day.