October 30, 2011

perennial gifts

A fellow community gardener gave us some of her perennials—a gift that keeps on giving! As part of our end-of-season tasks, we cut them back and are drying them:

Chocolate Mint
2011.10_chocolate mint


And we're also drying coriander:

October 28, 2011

fried green tomatoes with red beans and rice

2011.10_fried green tomatoes and red beans and rice
As predicted, we made fried green tomatoes.  They were good, but you know what's better? Fried red tomatoes...  I don't know why Southerners pick premature tomatoes in the middle of the growing season just to fry them up. I am most certainly one who eats this dish exclusively as an end of season novelty.  Next time we make these, I plan on improving the flavor of our corn flour batter by sweetening it, making it extra spicy, and perhaps adding curry.

To round out this fried green tomato meal, we made none other than - - - red beans and rice!

Red Beans and Rice Ingredients:
1 c. brown rice cooked in 2 c. vegetable broth and a splash of olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green pepper, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. Creole seasoning
1 t. parsley
1 t. thyme 
1/2 t. sage
2 (15 oz.) cans kidney beans, drained
dash of liquid smoke
salt and black pepper to taste

Saute the onion, celery and green pepper until the onion is translucent.  Add the spices and cook a little longer.  Mix the veggies with the rice, beans, and liquid smoke.

October 26, 2011

unripe tomatoes

2011.10_green tomatoes
We picked 10 pounds of lingering green tomatoes off our plants (4 heavy producers, 4 light producers, 2 non producers). Just in time--there's now 6" of snow on the ground!

Now begins the quest to find uses for these 10 pounds of unripe tomatoes. We will definitely bread and fry some of them. Leave a comment if you have a favorite way to eat unripe tomatoes!

Here's round one: Green Tomato Cake!
2011.10_green tomato cake

October 23, 2011

third time's a charm: sauerkraut

2011.10_cabbage plus salt equals sauerkraut
Hopefully.  And I am hopeful.

The first time Eric and I attempted to make sauerkraut was about 4 years ago in the basement of our college rental house.  We were super psyched about the endeavor.  We were just getting into local food and making things from scratch.  We attended a workshop about fermentation that demonstrated making sauerkraut, soy sauce, hard cider and miscellaneous other things like horseradish.  Confident in our abilities to follow the simple recipe, we headed home to slice cabbage thin, coat in salt, pack tight in a container, cover with a weight, and let the fermentation happen.  I don't remember exactly what went wrong.  We may have waited too long or the basement might have fluctuated too much in temperature, but a very terrible smell emerged from the basement.  We told our roommates that it must just be a stage in the process of sauerkraut making...  Eric's grandfather, after all, complained about growing up with the smell of fermenting sauerkraut in his bedroom because there was no other space for it in their small flat.  So we kept waiting and waiting but no edible magic came of the situation.  Clearly we just messed up.

I did not think again about attempting to make sauerkraut until 2 years later when we met a stranger from CouchSurfing who was bike touring across the country. He was an anarchist, activist guy who was super into fermenting and was convinced that we needed to give sauerkraut another chance.  So we did.  It went well I think.  But for some reason I thought that I should can it since I was just getting into canning at the time.  The canning process dried out the sauerkraut a bunch and, duh, it killed all of the healthy, living enzymes. Never again!

Here's hoping for a delightful third batch of sauerkraut!
(we used the Wild Fermentation recipe)
2011.10_starting sauerkraut

October 19, 2011

chili that is green

2011.10_chili that is green
The definition of "chili" is kind of weird, right?  First, there are chili peppers. Then there is the chili (con carne) that I grew up with (with beans and tomatos). And then there is green chili (chili verde), common to New Mexico and Colorado (at least), which seems to be a sauce more often than a standalone meal.

Anyway, my intent when creating this recipe was to make something like the chili I grew up with, but make it from green things instead of red things. Hence "chili that is green." And also of course, to make it sin carne. The result is something that actually more closely resembles a split-pea soup or gumbo than a chili, but it has some heat to it, and tastes pretty good.

Hominy is really good. Really good at creating islands of interesting texture. Also, liquid smoke is so key.

Margarine or oil
2 medium onions
2 1/2 c. dry split peas
3 c. okra
2 c. roasted green chiles, peeled and chopped; to taste
1 1/2 c. hominy
1 1/2 c. edamame
1 bulb garlic
1 tomato, green or yellow
1/2 c. celery (optional)

3 bay leaves
1 1/2 T. oregano
1 1/2 T. cumin
2 t. coriander, ground
2 t. coriander, whole
3 t. liquid smoke
½ t. filé powder (optional)
1 T. salt
black pepper to taste

October 18, 2011

chocobean chili

2011.10_chocobean chili
Like Eric said in the previous post, we had a vegetarian chili cook-off for my birthday.  It was by far my best birthday ever!  Why?  Because my friends are awesome!  We had 10 delicious entries with a whole lot of variety in style.  This chocobean chili was my contribution. 

inspired by this recipe
Serves: 15

6 c. cooked black beans (2 3/4 c. dry)
3 red onions, diced
2 large yams, cubed
4 red bell peppers, diced
1 head of garlic, minced
olive oil
2 T. salt
2 (28 oz.) cans of crushed or diced tomatoes
2 c. red wine
3/4 c. chili powder
1/2 c. sugar
1 (7 oz.) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
2 T. ground cumin
2 T. oregano
1 T. paprika
3 oz. bakers chocolate, shaved

Cook the beans.  Toss the second batch of ingredients (red onion - salt) into a large pot.  Cook over medium heat with a cover on for about 15 minutes.  Add the beans and the third batch of ingredients.  Reduce to a simmer for a minimum of 45 minutes.

happy birthday julie!

2011.10_rainbow birthday cake
I made Julie this vegan rainbow cake for her birthday, using a vegan cake recipe from our friend Susan and batter coloring instructions from Omnomicon.

Here it is in all of its frosted cloudy glory:
2011.10_gray frosted cake
Sorry no slice shots--it got eaten too fast!

Also, we had a veggie chili cook-off, so chili recipes are forthcoming!

October 10, 2011

herbed dumpling soup

2011.10_herbed dumpling soup
We made this soup. Our noses ran in a good way while we ate it. Though I have to say that I was a little underwhelmed by the dumplings, but that's probably because I'm holding a grudge against them since I am now missing a bit too much of my pinky nail. Remember kids, knives are dangerous. But really, next time I am going to make garlic time bomb dumplings!

October 9, 2011

pumpkin molasses chocolate chip cookies

2011.10_pumpkin molasses chocolate chip cookie dough
And then the temperature dropped and I realized that summer is on its way out. I had sensed it was coming. The trees have been dropping crunchy leaves on the sidewalks for a week or more. Then yesterday it rained a cold drizzle most of the day with snow falling up on the mountain peaks while everyone in the grocery store crowded in the baking aisle. Hence the cookie post.

For the record, I initially intended to make plain old molasses chocolate chip cookies based on Joy the Baker's recipe, but you know tis the season for adding pumpkin to things.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies!

3 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. blackstrap molasses
1 c. melted butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 c. pumpkin puree (from a pumpkin)
2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine the dry ingredients (flour through ginger). In a separate bowl, mix together the granulated sugar and molasses. Then cream the sugar and butter for 3 minutes. Mix in egg, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Slowly add the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. Chill the dough for at least 20 minutes. Shape rough balls and drop onto a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with a little bit of coarse salt. Bake for about 8 minutes or until golden.

2011.10_pumpkin molasses chocolate chip cookies
Next time I make these I will try using chocolate chunks instead of chips and leaving out the baking powder so that the cookies are a little less puffy and a little more photogenic.

October 4, 2011

chiles rellenos (beer battered collard fusion) with salsa fresca

chiles rellenos 
Oh hello, here are some stuffed poblano peppers aka chiles rellenos. I followed the nice instructions at Macheesmo. I filled them with soft white cheese and (liquid) smoky collard greens, battered them with an Oktoberfest beer, egg and flour batter, and topped them with a tomato, avocado, and cilantro salsa fresca. What a great time of year!

If the skins on the peppers are thin enough, don't worry about getting them all off. Also don't worry about the peppers breaking while stuffing; they are pretty forgiving once you batter them. Seam side down!

crabapple liqueur

2011.10_crab apple liqueur
A year and a half ago I wrote about how I had made several pints of (no-pectin-added) crabapple jelly that didn't gel. I tried adding more sugar and, frankly, that just made them into a thick candy syrup. This was fine for oatmeal and pancakes, but not so good for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Now, inspired by the liqueurs class, I decided to add some vodka and water to what is essentially a thick simple syrup with crabapple flavor to make crabapple liqueurs. I added star anise to one jar and rosemary and sage to the other. Now maybe this everlasting crabapple sugar stuff will finally get used up.

October 3, 2011

coffee liqueur

2011.10_coffee liqueur
We were actually planning on starting a coffee liqueur before the liqueur class that Eric mentioned in the previous post, but the class motivated us to do it asap. We changed the proportions of the recipe a bit compared to the class example. In particular we went with whole coffee beans rather than ground and increased the amount since the have less surface area. Hopefully straining will be easier at the end. We used 1/2 c. whole coffee beans bloomed in 1 c. hot water and then mixed with 2 c. sugar and 2 1/2 c. vodka. We will let the coffee beans soak for a month or longer if it needs it and shake it up once a day if we can. Then when a month is up, we'll filter the liqueur and optionally let it sit another month for more flavor development. We'll see about that last optional step...

October 2, 2011

rowanberry bitters

2011.10_mountain ash berry bitters 
I recently participated in a class put on by Sophia Rose on making mulled and infused wines, cordials, and liqueurs. We tasted many delicious concoctions, but one of the most interesting things we did was make bitters. Commercially available bitters often contains gentian, but we used rowan, or mountain ash berries since they grow around here and are sometimes used for bitters. The trees are very common--I've often wondered if the berries were edible.

To make the bitters, just infuse gin or vodka with macerated berries. We used vodka, but will probably add in some juniper berries to make it more gin-like.

Here's a great booklet with many other uses for rowanberries.