DIY: Toasted Pepitas

July 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

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Many store-bought, pre-toasted and -salted nuts and seeds are processed and coated with starches to help salt/spices adhere to the nuts/seeds.  If you are steering away from added starches in your diet, or if you simply would like to have more control over the ingredients in the food that you eat, try buying the raw materials and then dressing them up yourself — it’s a resourceful, creative alternative to what’s commonly available in a standard supermarket.

I like to roast/salt/season big batches of nuts and seeds at a time.  They’re wonderfully shelf-stable and then I have them at-the-ready.  Included below is the simplest recipe for roasting pepitas (pumpkin seeds), but feel free to dabble.  You can try roasting them with a little tamari (or soy sauce) or toss them with dill and nutritional yeast.  I enjoy pepitas out-of-hand, a-top mammoth leafy salads, soups and pasta or brown rice dishes.

Ingredients:
raw pepitas
sea salt, to taste
a few teaspoons olive oil
spices, to taste (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a sheet pan, toss pepitas with a little olive oil – just enough to cover all the surfaces.  Sprinkle with salt (and spices) to taste.

2.  Bake for 15 minutes; stop and stir half-way. Cool completely before packaging.

 

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, SCD-safe, nut-free, vegan

Preserving Summer’s Bounty: Dried Tomatoes

June 5, 2012 § 4 Comments

Today is the fifth of June and down in the southwest, we’re harvesting tomatoes in full swing.  In fact, we’ve been popping sweet cherries into our mouths for the last month.  In light of this fact, and given that we have several more months of lycopene-glory ahead, it’s never too early to start preserving these suckers.  Canning recipes are coming, but for now, I thought I’d start with a dehydration recipe.  Don’t worry if you don’t own one of these mammoth electrical appliances.  If you’re eating tomatoes now, your backyard is an oven.

Ingredients:
tomatoes sliced 1/4 – 1/2″ thick (cherries cut in half)
sea salt

Method:

Slice tomatoes in thick slabs and remove seeds.  Arrange evenly on a dehydrator (or mesh screen for outdoor use).  Sprinkle generously with sea salt.  Dehydrate at 135/140 degrees for 10-16 hours (depending on thickness) or until chewy and crinkled.  If dehydrating outside, keep a fine mesh cloth (ie. cheese cloth) over the tomatoes to keep bugs and debris at bay.  When cool, store in an airtight container. Will keep for several months.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan

Preserving Winter’s Bounty: Spicy Arugula Pesto

February 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

I tend to be overzealous about a number of things (ie. an empty email inbox, books (of non-electronic varieties), election cycles, coffee, citrus and cocoa powder, to name a few).  Last week, after gabbing with farmer friends and ogling over the bounty of winter grub, I came home with four, enormous cloth bags of spicy winter greens.  I can’t help myself.

With only two, lonely cubes of garden, basil pesto in the freezer (and wanting to save those for a rainy day), I decided to do a riff off of traditional pesto and use spicy greens for the leafy base instead.  After a few trails, this recipe is my favorite.  (A close second had a few squeezes of meyer lemon blended in at the end.)

Ingredients:
4 cups arugula (packed)
1 clove garlic, large
3 tablespoons olive oil  (plus additional, if desired)
1/2 cup asagio cheese, grated
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

Method:
Pulse arugula, garlic, walnuts and cheese in a food processor.  Slowly add olive oil and blend to desired consistency.  Freezes and thaws well.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free

Apple Preservation: Fruit Roll-Up Style

December 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

I get such a kick out of edible table decorations; along those lines, I like consumable party favors (or wedding take-home goodies), too.   This year, for Thanksgiving, I whipped up a double batch of apple fruit roll-ups and put a small wrap on each plate.  It was a seasonal palate cleanser and was a fun story-prompter.  I might’ve even convinced my uncle David to buy a dehydrator!

Ingredients for the Roll-Up:
apple sauce
honey
cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, ginger

Tools:
food dehydrator
parchment paper
scissor
string

Method:
Cook down apples into a sauce or scoop from a jar.  Heat on the stove; add honey and spices to taste.  Remove from stove and spread on a plastic dehydrating sheet (like this one) about 1/2 cm thick.  Turn dehydrator on at 135 degrees and dehydrate for 10-12 hours.  Peel away from plastic, rip or cut into thin strips and roll up in parchment paper.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free

Quick Bread & Butter Apple Pickles

November 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Quick pickles are my go-to recipe when the cucumber crop goes gang-busters.  But it wasn’t until this past fall, when I cooked side-by-side with Cammy at Super Chilly Farm, that I added apples into the vinegar brine.  We made this recipe six times in three weeks and since coming home to Arizona, my mom has kept the crisper drawer stocked with cucumbers.

Two things to note:

(1) Use the very best apple cider vinegar you can find.  If you can, seek out a local apple orchard and buy vinegar in bulk (we buy gallon jugs).  The cost isn’t prohibitive (in fact, it’s often comparable to grocery store prices, or cheaper when purchased in larger quantities); it only requires a bit of extra effort.  While I lived in Maine I tracked down Sewall’s cider vinegar.  I brought home a bottle for my mom who tried it and said it tasted like wine and was the best she’d ever tasted.

(2) At Super Chilly Farm I was fortunate to have a stock pile of heirloom apples at my disposal.  With each batch of pickles, I sliced up different kinds of apples — softer, crisper, sweeter, tarter.  My favorite pickle batch used sweet, only slightly acidic, very crisp crab apple varieties called Chestnut and Pipsqueak.  Close runner-ups were Red St. Lawrence and Garden Royal apples.  (Photographs here.)  I suspect that this recipe would be quite good with the conventional varieties Pink Lady, Fuji, Braeburn or Gala.  Or, if you live in apple country, visit an orchard growing out apples native to your area and try out a couple that strike your fancy.

 Ingredients:
4 medium-sized pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced
4-5 small/medium apples, unpeeled, cored
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 early onions/shallots
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey (or more, to taste)
1 cinnamon stick

Method:

1. Prep cucumbers: Cut off ends, discard, and thinly slice with a cabbage shredder, mandolin, food processor or sharp knife.  Place cucumber slices in a colander and toss with sea salt.  Let sit for 20 minutes.  Prep apples and onions using the same slicing utensil—aim for uniform thinness and size.

2. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, water and honey until full incorporated.  Add cinnamon stick and pour dressing over apples and onions.

3. Rinse cucumbers and lightly dry.  Add slices to bowl with apples and stir well.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, nut-free, gluten-free

Preserving Summer’s Bounty: Dried Basil

November 3, 2011 § 4 Comments

We have 22 containers of pesto preserved in the frosty depths of our freezer. Even though I’m a pesto-eating champ (case in point: for snack-time I eat dollops of pesto on carrots; I pour an extra quarter-cup on top of my already-seasoned pasta), I’ve run out of Tupperware.

Instead of processing my most recent harvest into a sauce, I dried it.  That way I’ll have basil-flavor handy for dishes where pesto is unwarranted (do those exist?) or when the green goddess shmear runs out.

Home-dried basil is a zillion times more potent and scrumptious than its cardboard-flavored cousin on the spice rack in the supermarket.  What’s more, when you dry it yourself, you make bank.  (CHA-ching!)  To illustrate: We have multiple basil plants in our garden.  On average, one plant will yield three to four harvests of 9-12 cups of basil leaves.  I harvested all of what you see above & below from one plant.  Two weeks later I had over a pint of dried leaves.  This week I’ve used my dried basil in two soups and a frittata and the taste is to-live-for-good.  Here’s how easy it is:

STEP 1. Snip-snip: When harvesting basil for pesto, for cooking or drying, cut back the whole plant, stems included.  Giving your basil plant a big haircut will allow the plant to regrow stems, preventing them from hardening and turning woody.

STEP 2. Clean as a Whistle:  Gently wash each stem in a sink basin full of water to remove any dirt or dust. Give each stem a little shake and let them air dry on the counter top for several hours.

STEP 3. Twisty-tie Time: When the leaves and stems have dried, group stems into bundles and turn upside down.  Use a twisty-tie (or hemp or strong string) to tie the stems together at the base.  I usually tie four or five stems in each group.  Be mindful not to group too many stems together; there should be some breathing room between each stem so that all the leaves can properly dry out.

STEP 4. Forget about ’em: Clip each bundle to a drying rack (like below) or use a string and tie each bundle to  a hanger.  Place in a cool, dry place for a couple of weeks.

STEP 5. After two weeks, start checking in: When two weeks have come and gone, check your basil every few days. When all the leaves are crispy and not a bit damp, unclip/untie each bundle.
STEP 6. Perfume your hands with basil: Over a large sheet pan or wide-rimmed bowl, pull all the dried leaves off of each stem.  Break them down slightly and place in a clean, dry glass jar.  (I like mason jars with air-tight lids, ensuring freshness.)
STEP 7. Get cookin’: Your dried basil is now ready to use.  To eek out the most flavor and release aromatic oils, break the leaves down in your hands just before using.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free

Blueberry Compote (a little bit of heaven)

August 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

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Blueberry compote is simple to make with just a couple of must-have ingredients.  It’s not as complicated as jams or jellies, and while it doesn’t have the shelf life of canned fruits, I promise, you won’t need a good expiration date.

Ingredients:
2 pints blueberries
1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 lime)
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar

blueberrycompote1

Methods:

1. In a wide-brimmed skillet, heat blueberries, lime juice, zest and sugar.  The berries will soon loose their shape and their skins will burst, revealing pearly-green underbellies.  Just before boiling, the pot will turn a deep purple color, almost black.  Boil rapidly for 5 minutes.

2.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Spread a bit of jam on a plate and place in the fridge for about ten minutes.  After ten minutes, take out and spread your forefinger across the jam.  If your finger leaves a clear path, the compote will set up nicely.  If the compote is still liquidy, put the pan back on the stove and cook another minute or two.   Let the compote set for at least 20 minutes before spooning on top of bread/yogurt.  Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan, nut-free

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