Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Corn, Tomato and Basil Salad

Thanks to Hurricane Irene our house is without power. Like generations before we are now rising closer to sunrise, sleeping closer to sunset and eating meals by flickering kerosene lamp light. Luckily, we have a generator that we can cycle to run our refrigerator and freezer and the well's pump. This lets us have drinking water, etc. and, hopefully, will help us salvage some of food. Until the power returns our meals are improvised and, if they involve cooking, they are made on the propane camp stove or the grill. 

Here's a rough recipe for a Corn, Tomato and Basil Salad I improvised the other night to go with defrosted, pre-cooked shrimp the other night. It was a fresh, satisfying and super quick. I should to keep easy meal ideas in mind when we have our power back as it is going to be a busy fall with anatomy and physiology part II, organic chemistry lab and lecture and a few other things to juggle.

I hope you aren't suffering the effects of Hurricane Irene or other natural disasters, but if you are I hope whatever troubles you are experiencing go away soon! I'm so thankful that a lack of power is my only Irene-related issue.

Corn, Tomato and Basil Salad

4 Tomatoes (from interning at Red Dog Farm!)
1 15 ounce can Corn, drained 
1/4 cup Basil, approximate measure (from the porch)
Apple Cider Vinegar, Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

1. Open the can of corn and turn it upside down with the lid on to let it drain.
2. Cut up the tomatoes into large chunks. Place in a bowl with whatever residual juice remains and add corn.
3. Slice the basil thinly, or if you would prefer tear it roughly, and add it the bowl.
4. Add a tablespoon or two of Apple Cider Vinegar, 5 twists of freshly ground pepper and a sprinkling of salt (or whatever amount of these items you prefer) and toss ingredients to combine.
5. Eat it all because you can't refrigerate the leftovers for later!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.   

Amelia Earhart was much more than an aviator. She designed a fashion line and had other careers. 

John Tierney's Do You Suffer from Decision Fatigue (NY Times) reviews some fascinating social and neuroscience research about willpower. Here's an excerpt... "The discoveries about glucose help explain why dieting is a uniquely difficult test of self-control — and why even people with phenomenally strong willpower in the rest of their lives can have such a hard time losing weight. They start out the day with virtuous intentions, resisting croissants at breakfast and dessert at lunch, but each act of resistance further lowers their willpower. As their willpower weakens late in the day, they need to replenish it. But to resupply that energy, they need to give the body glucose."

Lucite for handbags was sourced from damaged nose cones of airplanes scrapped after World War II. For an article about them and great pictures, go here. Deco Jewels, the store they reference in New York, is fabulous. It also was out of my price range. (via Zuburbia)

Initially I skipped the Frank Bruni's Unsavory Culinary Elitism (NY Times) because I don't keep up with Anthony Bourdain or Paula Deen. Then Lizzie mentioned it. It is definitely worth a read and Jane Black has an equally well-written and thoughtful response: Can Food Network Chefs Help Solve the Obesity Crisis? (The Atlantic).

Recipes Bookmarked
Borani Esfanaaj-Yoghurt and Spinach Dip in the Persian Manner at The Spice Spoon: cooking without borders
Breakfast Power Truffles at Always Order Dessert
Chewy Granola Bars with Hazelnut and Chocolate at Always Order Dessert
Vegan Fig Bars at Choosing Raw
Ginger Lime Edamame Sweet Potato Burgers at Choosing Raw
Kale Mallung at Fat Free Vegan
The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1933 at How To Be A Retronaut (via Courtney)

 The Sky Even Makes the Statue of Liberty Small, Brooklyn, NY August 2011

Find more A B & The Sea songs at Myspace Music

Leslie recommends this band! From a first listen through their songs on myspace their sound made me think of the Beach Boys, the Beatles and The Wonders (Yes as in That Thing You Do!). Promising.

Also! I'm so afraid of natural disasters that I would rather not think about them. While the earthquake was fairly close, I was somehow was earthquake proof except for the 1 a.m. aftershock when it woke me up Thursday. Fortunately everyone I know who was closer is safe and their damage is superficial only. Next up Hurricane Irene... Keep safe (and dry) this weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quick Beets with Chile and Lemon

In 2009, The Kitchn posted a recipe for Quick Beets with Chile and Lime that I've been making ever since when I want beets and don't feel like roasting, cooling and peeling them. It requires a mere three ingredients: raw beets, lemon and chili powder. The raw beets' sweetness is exaggerated by lemon juice, instead of roasting, and the chili powder adds an unexpected earthiness. It also has a killer crunch.

To make the dish, you simply slice up the beets as thinly as you can manage and combine the ingredients. The Kitchen has you toss the everything together prior to serving, but I go next level with laziness and simply squeeze the lemon juice over the beets, then sprinkle the chili powder on top.

Fuschia fingertips be darned this is worth a try if you like beets. You can even be fancy and call it carpaccio.

To make hearts just trim the beet's ends off and cut a v-shaped chunk out of the root end prior to slicing.

Fuchsia remains

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.   

I had no recollection of there being a squirrel girl group on Sesame Street. Meet The Squirelles.

The Atlantic's The Latest Raw Milk Raid: An Attack on Food Freedom told a troubling tale and was thought provoking. Wasting resources to raid a co-op where people had already stated their willingness to take personal responsibility for their behavior is absurd, especially in contrast to the Cargill situation. (via Courtney)

This excerpt from Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by Barry Estabrook gives a few more reasons to glory in fresh tomatoes only when they are in season! Gather some up while there is a bit of time left and perhaps do some canning too.

"People in different geographical locales can harbor different microbial ecosystems. Last year scientists reported evidence that the Japanese microbiome has acquired a gene for a seaweed-digesting enzyme from a marine bacterium. The gene, not found in the guts of North Americans, may aid in the digestion of sushi wrappers. The idea that people in different regions of the world have co-evolved with different microbial ecosystems may be a factor — along with diet, lifestyle and other environmental agents — in explaining why they are often subject to different cancers." This and other interesting things, though admittedly at times over my head, to consider can be read in Beyond the Genome, Cancer's Secrets Come Into Sharper Focus.

Greeley, Colorado is starting to cook meals from scratch in their schools. I hope their venture is a grand success that encourages others to join them in the effort.

Recipes Bookmarked
Cinnamon Almond Fruit Dip at The Joy of Clean Eating (via Sonee)
Fauxreos at Serious Eats by Bravetart (via Baking Bites)*
Fish Tacos with Pineapple Jicama Slaw at Clean Eating
Sriracha-Sesame Turkey Meatballs at Kayln's Kitchen

*I have made homemade oreos before, but I'm intrigued by this version.

Pantheon, Rome, Italy July 2007

Jazz Age Dancers 2 from Sparkling Pants on Vimeo.

I'll be watching and listening to this Sunday at the Jazz Age Party.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peach Melba Gratin

I had a 1/4 cup of raspberries weeping, literally, in the fridge and I need quick way to use them up. Searching my bookmarks for raspberry turned up Deb at Smitten Kitchen's Raspberry Brown Sugar Gratin. Having only three ingredients and very short instructions, I thought it would suit me just fine.

I didn't have enough raspberries, so I added a very ripe peach from the counter into the mix remembering Peach Melba. I've only been meaning to make it since home economics in ninth grade when another group made it and I had serious envy. It, Otis Spunkenmeyer cookies (so chewy) and making a duffel bag are all I remember from that class. Also in the spirit of peach melba, I also vanilla bean to the yogurt.

Deb mentioned using full fat Greek Yogurt in place of the traditional sour cream, I took it one step farther by killing the fat altogether. With all these changes it might taste nothing like the original, but I'll never know because I was perfectly happy with my end result. This one hit the tangy sweet spot just right. 

(It isn't super creamy this way. If you want a creamier texture, you'll want to use reduced fat or full fat yogurt.)

Peach Melba Gratin
adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen's Raspberry Brown Sugar Gratin
Yield 1 serving (I eeked out two and both parties wished we had more.)

1/4 cup Fresh Raspberries
1 medium Peach, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon Brown Sugar (optional)
6 ounces Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste (extract would be fine)
1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1. Slice the peach and add it to the raspberries in an oven safe dish (SIZE). If your raspberries are a little tart, toss in a teaspoon of brown sugar and let the mixture macerate for a bit. This will sweeten them up and make the mixture a bit juicier.
2. Preheat broiler. Spread the peaches and raspberries flat. Stir the vanilla into the yogurt and spread it across the fruit. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly across the surface (Deb recommends a sieve or mesh colander for this.).
3. Place the dish under the broiler until the sugar just starts to caramelize, approximately 4-5 minutes in my oven.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.  

Hold onto your friends with both hands - a cute illustration from Things We Forget. Thank you friends for hanging on to me and letting me hang on to you. I adore y'all.

The High Five's Origin and Creative Street Sign Graffiti (via Courtney)

Oh no! I like bananas, especially in smoothies, and would be devastated to have them disappear from the market. Here's an article discussing microbiology and biodiversity as they relate to bananas.

Recipes Bookmarked
Cinnamon Roll Cake at Cookin' Up North
Lasagna Cups at Lauren's Latest
Paneer Paratha a.k.a. Cheese Stuffed Flatbread at Veggie Belly (she has amazing step by step photos too)
Fat Free Okra Fries (Microwave) at Eggless Cooking
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Miso and Ginger at Everybody Loves Sandwiches
Sesame Yogurt Pasta Salad at 101 Cookbooks
Sugar Plum Crepes with Ricotta and Honey at Smitten Kitchen

Great waves! Kitty Hawk, NC August, 2011

I really only know this song by Ahn Trio, but it is beautiful. The video isn't anything to watch, so just let it be a soundtrack as you do other things. I first heard it on So You Think You Can Dance (this dance). I really dropped the ball on watching that this summer...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Poblano Pepper Poppers with Spinach-Artichoke Dip

A few weeks ago I bookmarked Kelly at Eat Make Read's Grown-Up Jalepeño Poppers. Her version made the treats I remembered slightly healthier by removing the breading while keeping the creamy, warm cheese that tones down the Jalepeno's spice so well. She also added goat cheese for a more unique flavor.

Since I had poblanos in abundance from Red Dog Farm, and to be honest can't handle jalepeño level spice, I decided to substitute them. The poblano's spice is more subtle - it grows on you rather than punching you. Then I started thinking about how to add another vegetable to the mix (because I like thinking I'm being healthy) when it dawned on me - Spinach-Artichoke Dip. The filling would remain creamy and cheesy while gaining some nutrients.

The first time I made the dip I used goat cheese in place of the parmesan, but it overpowered the popper making it all goat and spice. It turns out cream cheese and parmesan really is the way to go for spinach artichoke dip, though in the end I did add water chestnuts for an unexpected crunch.These poppers go down easy and are easy to whip up too. If you are pressed for time, you could make things even easier by filling them with pre-made Spinach Artichoke Dip. I promise not to tell.

Poblano Pepper Poppers with Spinach-Artichoke Dip
Yield: 22 poppers

11 small Poblano Peppers
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced (approximately 1 tablespoon)
1 small Onion, diced (approximately 2/3 cup)
4 cups Fresh Spinach, pack it into the cup as you measure since it shrinks when cooked
3/4 cup Quartered Artichoke Hearts (canned and drained)
1/4 cup chopped Water Chestnuts
4 ounces Cream Cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon Salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Halve the poblano peppers, removing seeds if desired, and place them on the sheet one to two inches apart.
2. Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a nonstick pan on the stove over medium heat. Once it sizzles when water is flicked at it, add the onions and garlic. Set a timer for three minutes and stir periodically.
3. Rinse spinach. When the timer goes off, add the slightly damp spinach to the garlic and onion mixture. Cook until the spinach wilts and the onions are translucent. Remove the mixture from heat to cool.
4. Combine the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, water chestnuts and artichoke hearts in a bowl. Use kitchen scissors to further break up the artichoke hearts, then stir to combine.
5. Pour the spinach mixture on top of the cheese mixture. Use kitchen scissors to roughly chop the spinach to break it up. Stir to combine.
6. Scoop the spinach-artichoke dip into the waiting poblano peppers so that it peeks up over the edges. I used a half tablespoon scoop for this and it worked great.
7. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until peppers begin to brown around the edges and the cheese is bubbly.

Created with reference to:
Spinach Artichoke Dip at Serious Eats
Grown-Up Jalepeño Poppers at Eat Make Read
Spinach Artichoke Dip (Vegan) at Oh She Glows
Ellie Krieger’s Spinach Artichoke Dip at Food Network

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture.  

Treating the Cause, Not the Illness discusses an Health Leads, an innovative organization operating in limited cities to connect patients with much needed social services. It appears to improve patients' quality of life as well as the efficacy of social workers in the hospitals. The initial anecdote discusses the importance of proper nutrition to health too. We need more solutions like this.

Comments on God's Blog at The New Yorker include "The dodo should just have a sign on him that says, 'Please kill me.' Ridiculous." (via The Improvised Life)

I would return to Glacier National Park in a heartbeat. Big Sky Country is gorgeous. Get glacier viewing envy, like me, by checking out the slideshow and reading Nash's article. If you go, be sure to eat at Two Sisters.

Molly at Orangette wrote an post about her struggles with procrastination, even when pursuing her passion - writing. It made me feel better knowing someone so successful struggles too.

This article on Afghans raging at young love blows my mind. I hope a solution, other than death, is found. It made me feel very fortunate to live in the US. TSA pat downs may be controversial, but we can choose our relationships freely and have many other liberties others do not have.

I can't decide. Is Twalaba cool or creepy? It maps your facebook friends and tracks the cost to visit them. I haven't given it my user info at this point (though I have considered doing so out of curiosity...I would never presume someone would let me come stay with them).

Recipes Bookmarked
Butterscotch Bars at Cooking Light
Panko Sprinkles at The Cupcake Project
Pumpkin Curry, with Ground Coconut and Mustard Paste at Le Sauce
Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough at Loves Veggies and Yoga
Raw Vegan Kale Chips at Loves Veggies and Yoga

Bull Moose, Glacier National Park, August 2010

This video was great as is the song. (via Pinnastorm)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Corn Pudding

When I said I was making Lois Freedman of Jean-Georges Management's Corn Pudding as part of dinner there was excitement... Until I read Mom the directions. At which point she emphatically said "That isn't corn pudding. It is corn casserole, corn compote or something else... Don't tell your Dad it is corn pudding or he will be disappointed."

You see here in Virginia, corn pudding is an eggy, creamy custard-type dish that has always been too sweet and heavy for my taste. This recipe doesn't require any eggs, cream or much of anything beyond fresh, grated corn. It is heavenly, summer sunshine compacted into soft, sweet bites. Think of creamed corn without the gloppy cream.

No one was disappointed. In fact, I liked it so much that I ate a smaller portion just so I could have more the next day. I used Seredipity corn from Red Dog Farms, a juicy, sweet bicolor variety, and as directed added the salt and butter to taste. I left the cayenne pepper and lime juice on the side since not everyone likes spice in our household. Adding them is tasty too, but they aren't necessary.

Corn Pudding
Yields 3 servings (approximately 1/2 cup each)
Adapted from Simplest Corn Pudding at NY Times

8 ears of Corn, husked
1 tablespoon Butter
Optional: Cayenne Pepper and/or Lime Wedges

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place a box grater on a medium cast-iron pan and grate each ear of corn directly into the pan. I found holding the corn horizontally and moving it diagonally to be the quickest way to grate. Discard the cobs.
3. Spread the corn evenly across the pan and bake until the edges and top are golden brown and the corn milk has thickened. For me this took 35 minutes.
4. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and salt to taste. If desired, season with cayenne pepper and a squeeze of lime juice. Mix well.