Posts tagged ‘mint’

October 29, 2018

Veggies in the Oven Make the Kitchen Toasty Warm

Veggies in the oven make the kitchen toasty warm and I love that on a cool fall day! Whether you roast or bake, the oven is a wonderful place to cook vegetables!
cabbage
Before the advent of microwave ovens, pretty much everyone baked potatoes and sweet potatoes in their full size, conventional oven. It wasn’t as common to roast or bake other vegetables unless they were cut up in some kind of casserole. A quick look at the 1953 edition of Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book advises boiling most vegetables in a small amount of water.

cookbookMy grandmother fried okra, but boiled carrots, broccoli, corn, cauliflower, cabbage, squash, turnips, and green beans. She even made stuffed bell peppers in her pressure cooker, not in the oven.

I’m not sure why I started cooking vegetables in the oven, but I love the results! Cauliflower is one of my favorites to roast. I cut it into small florets, then toss it in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. I roast the florets until they have some black edges. Yum! I wish I had some right now.

My newest favorite is baked red cabbage with herbed butter. If I start by making extra butter, I can easily turn this into a sheet pan meal by adding pork chops and red seedless grapes. I place the pork chops in the center of the pan and salt and pepper on each side. Then I alternate grapes still on stems and cabbage wedges around the edge of the pan and drizzle all of it with butter. The baking time is the same, but I turn the pork chops halfway through.

Here’s the recipe for enough butter for a sheet pan meal:

6 tbsp salted butter
4 – 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 – 2 sprigs fresh mint
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Sprinkle of salt

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add rosemary, mint, and garlic. Sprinkle with salt. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes. Remove herbs & garlic.

To bake one head of red cabbage, cut it into small wedges and place on aluminum foil in a sheet pan or other baking pan. Lightly salt, then drizzle with herbed butter. (You’ll need 1/4 to 1/3 of the butter for the cabbage.) Place in preheated 375 oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Serve hot!
oven cab
If you decide to try this recipe, make sure to purchase red cabbage rather than radicchio. While they look similar, the two are not the same. Radicchio is a member of the bitter-flavored chicory family along with Belgian endive, frisée, and escarole.

When the cabbage bakes, the color becomes an even deeper purple. It’s a beautiful addition to a plate. And when cooked this way, I prefer the flavor to that of green cabbage. That may be a good thing during cold and flu season. A cup of red cabbage contains 85% of the daily value of vitamin C.

A toasty warm kitchen. A beautiful, delicious, healthy baked vegetable and left-over herbed butter to use on pork chops or include in pasta sauce. OMG! Does it get any better than this?

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2373/2

http://www.farmerfoodshare.org/veg/cabbage/

http://www.farmerfoodshare.org/veg/radicchio/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/types-of-chicories-4040928

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/dont-like-peeling-butternut-squash-then-dont/

September 17, 2018

Everything Old is New Again

Just like the song says…everything old is new again. I suppose every generation thinks it at some point and often with an eye roll attached. That’s not to say there’s no innovation or new discovery, but some new ideas are really just repackaged innovations of a previous era.

If there’s a popular buzzword floating about, the concept may fall into this category. Think of the terms EcoFriendly, Free Range Parenting, Unschooling, Optics, Sourcing, Clean Eating, and Plant-Based Diet. I saw Michael Phelps on TV this morning telling me to turn the water off while I’m brushing my teeth to conserve water. My first thought was, who doesn’t do that? I also turn off the lights when I leave a room (or never turn them on during the day), keep the thermostat set below 68 in the winter, take warm rather than hot showers, and only run the dishwasher when it’s full. Conservation is just how I was raised.
corn
One of the buzzwords in food right now is Upcycling. You may have heard the term in relation to old furniture and household goods that have been transformed and repurposed to make them relevant. In food, the term means cooking with food that would otherwise be discarded. That could mean “ugly” vegetables, fruit pulp, produce left in the field, food that ends up in dumpsters behind food distributors because use by dates are nearing, the woody tips of asparagus and mushrooms, broccoli or cauliflower stems, prepared coffee, the green tops of beets and carrots, etc.

While this concept has been popularized by chefs such as Massimo Bottura and Dan Barber, it’s not a new practice. In my family wasting edible food was a sacrilege. We would never have thought to draw attention to repurposing leftovers, using all parts of a vegetable, saving pot likker, or making preserves or pies out of bruised fruit. We never threw away the neck, liver, or gizzards from a chicken. Ugly tomatoes went in tomato juice.

Not only would we have felt bad about the money we were throwing away wasting food, we worked too hard on the farm and in the garden to throw away our sense of accomplishment. Even now I feel bad when I fail to water the mint soon enough and the plant dies. Mint is a luxury herb I can live without, but I still feel the loss as a personal failing.

If a new buzzword brings attention to food waste and helps people think differently, that’s a good thing. It’s just not a new thing. If food waste is an old thing that bothers you, I’d still recommend the movie “Just Eat It”. That recommendation is old too, I’m just upcycling the link for purposes of this post.

Soooo, I’m all for reducing, reusing, recycling, conserving, repurposing, and upcycling in an ecofriendly way. I’m not all that concerned how the choices I make look from the outside. Optics don’t tell the whole story; you can’t judge a book by its cover; you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors; they killed the electric car and now it’s back.

All I know is everything old is new again!

https://www.forbes.com/sites/eustaciahuen/2017/07/31/foodbuzz/#add7af919922

http://www.foodwastemovie.com/

https://www.marthastewart.com/1516365/what-is-upcycled-food-plus-our-favorites

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/man-live-bread-aloneor-heres-learned-last-week/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

April 3, 2018

Spring is for Renewal – Even in the Kitchen!

Spring is for renewal – even in the kitchen! The winter season is hanging on here and there, but the spring growing season will soon arrive with wild contributions of poke salat, dandelion greens, and lamb’s quarters.
lettuce
Of course you’re not required to eat from your yard. Farmers markets, food co-ops and select grocery stores will fill vegetable bins with leaf lettuce, spinach, chard and kale. Fresh vegetables deserve a fresh presentation now and then and spring feels like the proper time for renewed inventiveness in the kitchen.

When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to pick leaf lettuce from the garden my grandmother planted at our farm. It was so tender and flavorful, nothing like an iceberg lettuce wedge which I only really appreciate when drenched in bleu cheese dressing topped with bacon pieces. For years, it was the only lettuce I knew. (How lucky was I?)

The vegetables we grew were what we ate. My mom wasn’t going to drive into town to buy different vegetables from the store when we had perfectly good ones peeking through the dirt across the driveway. Of course, we didn’t want to eat the same thing every day, so necessity became the mother of invention. New combinations or cooking methods developed on the fly.

A few years ago when I first purchased a share in an organic farm, I noticed that a similar thing happened in my kitchen. Rather than plan meals and make a shopping list, I was suddenly planning dishes based on the surprise ingredients I received each Friday when I picked up my share from the farm. Not knowing in advance what I would get made the experience feel like a cooking adventure. It renewed my sense of creativity in the kitchen.

Now, when the weather warms, I can’t help but feel an excited anticipation for the arrival of fresh tender greens, small green onions, beets, peas, asparagus, and broccoli. I love the bright colors! I love the flavors! And I love having a chance to think of new combinations!

I was thinking about giving you some recipes next, but that might keep you from the fun of creating your own. I would never want to rob you of fun! Instead, here are the top 8 ingredients I like to have available to pair with fresh veggies:

Avocados
While they’re great for soooo many things, it’s not always practical to keep an avocado in the kitchen. I can’t tell you how many I’ve thrown away because I wasn’t paying enough attention to the changing level of ripeness.

Now I keep Wholly Guacamole avocado minis on hand. I can use them in anything requiring mashed avocado without worrying whether they’ve gone bad.

Goat Cheese
The light creaminess of goat cheese won’t overpower even delicate garden flavors.

Boiled Eggs
Keeping a few boiled eggs in the refrigerator comes in handy for salads and casseroles as well as pasta dishes.

Fresh Ginger
Grated fresh ginger is delicious with beets or green beans and can give salad dressing a kick.

Mint
Any fresh herb could make this list on a given day, but today I like mint. Tomorrow, who knows, I may like cilantro.

Mirin or Rice Vinegar
Mirin is a rice wine with a light sweet flavor. Both mirin and rice vinegar add light acidity to a dish or dressing.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
I buy hulled pumpkin seeds and toast them in the oven with a little olive oil spray and salt. They bring a satisfying crunch and earthy flavor to salads. They’re great by the handful too.

quinoaQuinoa
I like the texture of quinoa. It works great as a base for a Buddha bowl or a salad and it has a higher protein-to-carb ratio than rice.

With these ingredients, or your own favorites, you’ll be well equipped for a variety of spring culinary creations. Inspiration for combinations can come from anywhere — accidentally tasting two things together on your plate, a dish you’re served in a restaurant, something you remember from childhood, a recipe you want to vary, a cooking show, a painting — literally anything!

This is the kind of post that makes my sister crazy! She would be much happier with an actual recipe. I want her to learn to play with flavors. Mostly, I want her to have the pleasure of discovering something new, delicious, and totally unexpected that she created. I want that experience for all of us! It feels so great on so many levels!
I feel so grateful that spring offers the bounty for such opportunities over and over and over again! It truly is a time of renewal.

https://www.eatwholly.com/products/chunky-avocado/wholly-chunky-avocado-minis/

May 23, 2017

Salad Days

Could these be your salad days? I know they’re mine.

Spring always delivers sweet, tender greens perfect for salad – Oak Leaf, Black Seeded Simpson, Deer Tongue, Bibb, Cos, Green Leaf, and Buttercrunch. Bitter Arugula, Kale, Frisée, and spicy micro mixes widen the flavor field. Toppings abound in green onions, radishes, salad turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and fresh herbs. Mix, match, and combine your favorites…yum!
leafy greens
It’s not unusual for me to serve a salad as part of a family meal, but when it’s just me I have to be a little more crafty. I may not want to take the time to clean and chop a salad for one. My way around that reluctance is to create a basic salad mix and store it in the fridge. At meal time, I can grab a handful to throw on my plate or I can add ingredients to create a specific flavor profile or entree salad.
sld base
I currently have a salad made of red and green spring mix, chopped green onions, and carrots stored in a Glad® Ovenware 9 x 12 pan in the refrigerator. These pans work great for this purpose. They’re rectangular, not too tall, and easy to stack. I can fill a second container with a salad of arugula or spinach and store it on top of the existing one.

For dinner yesterday, I topped a large bowl of this salad base with tuna salad and almonds. It was crunchy, satisfying, and ready in 5 minutes. Having something green I can quickly prepare helps keep me on track when I fill my schedule too full. When it’s just as easy to reach for the salad as it is to reach for something less healthy, I’m more likely to reach for the salad.

I’ve also discovered that salad is appreciated when family and friends gather for the birth of a baby, a health crisis, or the loss of a loved one. Last year when DJ was born, I mixed a variety of salads each week and delivered them to Ben & his wife. It was easy for me and a great addition to all the casserole dinners their friends delivered. Every time I offered assistance in those early days of baby fatigue, Ben asked for more salad.

Leafy greens don’t just provide a filling crunch, they’re packed with vitamins like A, C, K, and folate plus minerals like potassium and calcium. Delivering all this nutrition with a maximum of fiber and a minimum of calories makes leafy greens a great food choice. Of course, it’s easy to make them less healthy by overdressing or over adorning a salad.
dressing
I like to make salad dressing just before serving the salad and I usually serve it on the side. Yogurt or olive oil make a good base for homemade dressings, and flavored balsamic vinegar, fresh squeezed juice, or unsweetened fruit juice can add interesting flavors.

Here’s a vinaigrette I often pair with arugula. Just mix it all up and let it sit for a few minutes before dressing the salad.

1/2 cup Just Black Cherry juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp water
3/4 tsp salt to taste
1/8 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 pinch garlic powder

Some of my favorite salad toppings are blueberries, strawberries, ripe pears, oven roasted pumpkin seeds, spiced pecans, raw sunflower seeds, raw almonds, raw cashews, goat cheese, bleu cheese, green peas, homegrown tomatoes, green onions, fresh basil, and fresh mint. I also appreciate black beans, avocado, red bell pepper, white cheddar, and crispy bacon.

However you mix it, top it, flavor it, and dress it, having a basic salad prepared is sure to increase your consumption of leafy green vegetables. That can’t be a bad thing. And all the fresh, tender greens make spring my favorite time of year for salad days!

http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/leafy-greens-rated

https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/

http://www.rwknudsenfamily.com/


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”