Archive for March, 2012
I was looking through all my old posts and was shocked that I had never shared one of my favorite salads! So, here’s the recipe for a delicious, quick salad. This is especially great during the summer when your lettuce has bolted.
Servings: 2-? (the more you cut up the more you feed)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Snow Peas
- Cumin seeds
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Olive oil
- Celtic Salt (Opt)
Directions: Chop up some of each vegetable and put in a serving bowl. Sprinkle cumin seeds, balsamic vinegar and Celtic salt over it. Drizzle a little olive oil on and toss lightly.
Can be served as is or put a rounded heap on a beautiful single lettuce leaf.
You can use other veggies as substitutes. These are my favorites though. You can toss in some fresh basil or other Italian herbs you enjoy for a little different taste.
Last spring I had a bumper crop of snow peas. So many we couldn’t possibly eat them all. I decided to try freezing some of them to see how they did. I’d always read that you needed to blanch vegetables before freezing them.
Blanching is not a lengthy process, but I felt that if I could just clean them up from the garden, allow them to dry, and then freeze them without any processing it would help preserve even more nutrients.
Of course I’m not trying to freeze to keep something for eternity either. I had preserved them to use in the winter. The only thing is I forgot about them, as my freezer got packed full of more and more stuff.
I found them just a few weeks ago, when my new crop of peas had just been planted. They’re only about 3” tall now so have a long way to go. First I brought out a bag of blanched peas. I thawed them and used them in cooking. I have to admit that snow peas are not my favorite frozen vegetable. I used them in a stir fry, but think they would go better in a soup or stew. They were limp as could be and had nothing left of crispness like fresh peas.
Next I opened one marked un-blanched. Absolutely no difference in taste, but they were actually a little less limp than the blanched.
Bottom line is that I didn’t really like either. I now realize that shelling peas are really the only ones that hold up in the freezer, so if I have a bumper crop this year I’ll find some unsuspecting friend to foist them on.
Share Your Experiences With Freezing Foods
What have been your experiences with freezing various fruits and vegetables? Which have worked out well, which have been a fiasco, and why?
It happens to everyone. You’re on a roll. Everything you cook is better than the last. You come up with a new culinary invention every day. Then one day you walk into the kitchen and the inspiration is gone. Your muse has gone on vacation.
Suddenly frozen dinners look good, just because they’re easy. But gourmet they’re not. When you are in culinary “hell” restaurants like Portland, Oregon Italian restaurant, Pastini, are there to save the day.
With authentic, yet affordable Italian food, those desert (not dessert) days of lackluster dishes can come to an end. Lucky for you they have locations in the surrounding areas of Bend, and Corvallis, too.
What wanton gourmet wouldn’t enjoy seasonal specials, such as Ziti with Winter Squash and Gorgonzola Sauce, especially if the ingredients come from local sources? The fresher the better is my motto.
If you have special dietary needs, Pastini has a gluten free Italian restaurant menu to ease your concerns about whether dishes are safe to eat.
Should you ever find your muse has left you when a big shindig is about to happen you can always look into Portland Italian catering. Of course if you’re not in Portland or one Pastini’s other locations, you’ll just have to do the best you can with your local catering. However, make sure you make up a list of things that are important to you, such as, local ingredients, affordable prices, gluten free options, or anything else that is important to your particular affair.
Every time I take a green salad to a potluck gathering it gets rave reviews. I’m going to reveal the secret for a salad that keeps them coming back for more and more. Most green salads are made from head lettuce, some tomato, carrots, maybe celery, and then smothered in a heavy ranch style dressing.
To me that isn’t even a salad. The first thing is that you don’t use head lettuce. It is almost flavorless, and if it does have a flavor it is bitter. It’s also low on the nutritional scale. Leaf lettuce has a lot more nutrition for the same amount, and it has flavor! So the basis for a really fantastic salad is leaf lettuce. I usually try to include several varieties of lettuce in my salads; some red and green; loose leaf and romaine; buttercrunch or butterhead, etc.
Now that you’ve got the base of your salad figured out this is when the creativity starts. First of all I rarely make a salad that only has lettuce in it. Other greens that are excellent in a salad are kale, chard, spinach, arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, cabbage (both green and red), baby bok choy, mustard, or any of the early chinese greens. The key is to only use a little of the stronger leaves like arugula, kale, and mustard.
Still in the realm of green things I then choose fresh herbs to put in the salad, and if possible use in the salad dressing. All of the Italian herbs work well: basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, and rosemary. Here almost all of them grow fresh in the garden year round. I’ll also include parsley, shiso, tong ho, cilantro, or any other herbs that happen to be in abundance at the time.
Then come the extras. I don’t stop at just tomato, carrot and celery. Actually I don’t even put celery in, because I don’t like it. I’ll throw in cucumbers, zucchini, jicama, avocado, sunchokes, bell peppers, sugar or snow peas, yard long beans (cut up of course), pineapple tomatillo, or anything else that looks good at the moment. Just pick whatever vegetables you have in your garden, or that are on sale that week at the market and include them. Except those that really don’t taste good raw like potatoes. I’ve even shredded raw sweet potatoes on top.
Last come the desserts of the salad. I throw in some pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, whatever nuts we have on hand, as well as a handful of raisins, maybe some date pieces, or any crunchies I can lay my hands on.
To top it off you have to have a wonderful homemade salad dressing, which is a snap to make. I’ll share my most favorite dressing recipe next time.
The final piece de resistance is to decorate the salad with edible flowers. I’ll share my list of around 40 flowers you can decorate your dishes with and also eat!
Do you have a favorite salad ingredient that’s not mentioned here? It would be great to hear what tasty treats you’ve found.
I’ve recently started up a coaching business for a healthy lifestyle. I’m doing a pilot program first, with people I know, to see how well the information is received and if they can actually use it.
Last night I presented information about toxins in our food. It sometimes surprises me how little most people know about what they’re eating. These people are pretty sharp too, more aware than most. However, I found that one of them didn’t even know what GMO foods were and the others didn’t know the depths to which they have infiltrated our food system.
So, I want to pass on some info for you. GMOs are in almost all non-organic foods, and even some organic foods are starting to be contaminated. The big four that are causing all the problems are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed in all their various forms. Sugar beets are coming on strong now, too. At least one of these ingredients is in almost all pre-prepared, non-organic foods.
Just a year ago they were saying about 70% of all non-organic pre-prepared foods were contaminated, now that is nearly 95%. That’s a lot of GMO in our diet and we don’t really know what they could be doing to us.
I’m not as concerned with them splicing some other organism’s genes into my food (although I want to know if it is animal since I’m a strict vegetarian). What bothers me the most is how plants are either pesticide ready or already have pesticides in them.
In India they found that animals that ate the stubble from fields (a common practice for poor farmers to feed their livestock and a great way to add some fertilizer) were dropping dead. The reason: the farmer was growing BT cotton or a Roundup ready crop. The animals were dying from the residue in and on the stubble!
That is enough information to make we want to make sure I don’t eat any of the pesticide ready or impregnated foods.
There are no long-term studies of the impacts of these organisms, because they haven’t been around long enough to do them. Plus most of the studies used to approve these “foods” were done by Monsanto themselves. Most independent studies have found questionable if not downright serious health issues.
We need to make sure what we’re eating is good for us. Otherwise how can we be healthy! How can we survive.
Guest post of the week by Deangelo Spencer
The other night while cooking dinner I may have accidentally caught our oven on fire. When I say may have I mean I actually did. I could have sworn that I set the timer when I put our dinner in the over but evidently I did not and then I got all carried away watching a terrible reality show that shall remain nameless. The next thing I know the smoke alarm is going off and my phone is ringing and smoke is filling up the kitchen way faster than I would have imagined it would. I looked frantically around the kitchen for something to put out the tiny fire with but as it turns out we have no fire extinguisher. This is not something that I have ever once thought about buying when I am out at the store and it is clearly something that I never thought I would actually need. This day I needed it more than ever. Thankfully we have an alarm system from homesecuritysystems.com that alerted me quickly before it got out of control.
One dessert I have missed since I became a vegetarian is cheesecake. I’ve tried several vegetarian and vegan recipes, but they’ve never quite matched the creamy smoothness and delicious taste of the original.
Always hopeful of rekindling my “love” relationship with this delightful dessert, I took a look at Cheesecake.com and was pleasantly surprised to find they include recipes, as well as online order cakes, on their site. They had quite a number of recipes for me to try. Some use whipped topping in place of the eggs, which I thought was a novel idea. The one that I liked the looks of the best was the Banana Split Cheesecake. I liked the combination of flavors, but would probably substitute a powdered whole sugar and real cherries, for the confectioners sugar and maraschino cherries. I’ll have to bookmark the recipes, give them a try and let you all know which is the winner in my eyes, or should I say tastebuds.
I’m sure they’re not nearly as delicious as one I could order from Cheesecake.com, but maybe they’ll be a decent substitute. I must admit the turtle and the praline cheesecakes look mighty delicious. Actually, if I were going to order one it would have to be the sampler, because there’s not one there that doesn’t look absolutely amazingly decadent.