Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer Berry Smoothie plus 9 Summer Favorites

This started out to be a blog about favorite links, and then I decided to add my favorite smoothie recipe, so this week it's a little of both.  I'm late posting this week, and last week, well, it was a lost cause.  I've plenty of excuses. Mostly it has to do with writing other things.

A few months back I finished this article about antibiotics.  As I did the research I got sucked into the microbial world, a world I'd never really given much thought to before.  A friend of mine, a retired UW biology professor, loaned me this Field Guide to Bacteria. I like it so much I'm buying my own copy. I'll put it next to my Kafka collection.

Maybe I'll put a microscope on my wish list.  We're giants in a microbial world.

I worked on anther article last month--bees and neonicotinoid pesticides and got sucked into that topic too. I watched this podcast twice.  I got caught up with what's going on in Australia with bees.  No bumblebees in Austrailia.  What? My favorite bee of all.  

I was also working on a salad article for Vegetarian Journal.  I love Vegetarian Journal!

What I wasn't doing was posting on my blog. Maybe you noticed. And maybe I was overdoing it with the long, long dog walks. 

Hey, it's summer, the best time of year in the Northwest.

I actually wrote most of this blog last week.  All I needed was pictures and a short recipe.

It had to be about berries.  The thing about berries is the price varies in the Northwest so much and I can't figure out why exactly.

The berries from the garden are my favorites.

1. A berry smoothie on a hot summer day. (A berry smoothie on any kind of day.)

Berry Smoothie
(Serves 2)
Packed with phytonutrients, this smoothie goes down easy on a hot summer day.

1 1/2 cups berries
1/2 to 3/4 cup pomegranate juice
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup coconut sorbet
1 tablespoon almond butter (optional)
2 tablespoons protein powder (optional)
Ice (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender.  Turn on high or pulse for about 30 seconds.  Pour into glasses, garnish with a mint sprig if desired.

2.  Hummingbirds in the garden.

3. This ultimate Northwest garden.  Can't wait to go this summer.

4. Tiny houses are all the rage.  Love, even though we don't exactly qualify.  Dream on--a  long library list for this great read.

5. Dreaming about the sand castles at Long Beach.

6. I just got this book for the garden.

7. This great summer reread.

8.  Can't get enough summer salads.  I noticed cabbage is coming back in at the market, so here's my favorite coleslaw recipe.

9.  Reading too about honey bees. They must be the most written about insect ever. I found this cool column called The Curious Beekeeper from the National Honey Advisory Board.  Check it out.

10.  Anything to keep my Cooking Assistant happy. He loves homemade dog biscuits: 

Buckwheat-Peanut Butter Treats.  As soon as it cools off, we'll be back in the kitchen.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Kale Salad with Lemon and Avocado

The heat makes me crave salads. This kale salad is one of my all-time favorites.  I vary the basics--kale, lemon and avocado--with whatever is in season. When I found red peppers at the market, I knew kale salad was in my future. Just for fun, I checked other recipes for kale salad. Here's a version from 101 Cookbooks.  Here's a different version from Oh She Glows.

My favorite kale is Dinosaur or Tuscon, Black  Lacanato--whatever you want to call it,  this kale has  deep green fairly flat leaves with a strong kale flavor and just a hint of bitter. 

I'm not really picking kale at the exact season because this kale likes cool better than hot, but some farmers grow and sell it in summer months.

Prices are different everywhere, but it's so nutrient-packed, it's always a bargain from $2 to $3.50 a bunch.  

Here is the recipe I posted last kale salad-- it's basic and I'd just added apples.  This time I also tossed in toasted pumpkin seeds.

Who doesn't love pepper season at the market?

Kale Salad with  Peppers and Avocado
(Serves 4)

1 red peppers, seeded and diced
1 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon agave nectar, or to taste
1 avocado, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon, chopped Mama Lil's Peppers
Smoked sea salt to taste
1 bunch of kale, leaves removed from stem and thinly sliced

1. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add half the olive oil and peppers.  Stir and cook until peppers begin to brown.  Set aside.

2. Combine lemon juice, agave nectar, chopped Mama Lil's Peppers and sea salt in a small bowl.  Add avocado, making sure all chunks are coated with lemon juice.

3. Place kale in a serving bowl and drizzle remaining olive over the leaves.  Massage into the leaves.  When peppers are cool, gently toss with kale, peppers, and avocados in lemon juice.  Adjust seasonings.

Enjoy the scents and flavors!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Apricot-Cherry Tart

I've have another easy dessert recipe to post this week. I was going to share something more substantial, but I'm lazy in the heat of summer and I've been spending a lot of time in the garden.  I got these petunias early in the season and  but they are not bee magnets, but they're pretty and add color to the garden.  There are actually two little skulls on the bench, but the flowers have totally covered the other skull.

Everyone has got to have a few skulls in the garden, right?

Apricot-Cherry Tart sounds so fancy, and it is, but you don't need to tell anyone how easy it is to make.  

You can use peaches or nectarines and blueberries instead, if you want. And sure you can make your own pie crust, but why really? Unless you love to make pie crust.  I've used my grandmother's recipe.  I've used friends' recipes, and cheaper of course.  So if you're on a budget, get out the cookbook.

 Here's one by Alton Brown, but the lard . . . that's what my grandmother used but it just won't do in my kitchen.  Here is another one by Savvy Vegan.  But the lazy cook "cheats" frequently and it's easy to do with this  pie shell.

North Star cherries were available again this past week.

And the apricots.  I love R & R Farms.  These farmers only come to the market for a few weeks in the summer.  I can't miss their wild-crafted apricots. 

You can find flour locally too, if you want, but it's harder to find in the summer because more farmers have fruits and vegetables. It keeps frozen for about 6 months in the freezer. Get it at Nash's in the winter. The whole wheat pastry flour is my favorite.  The flavor is so sweet and it really adds to this dessert

The aroma of apricots is enticing. 

I think I better guard my supply.

Cut the Earth Balance or butter in until it resembles crumbles.  Finn is in tune with the zen of baking.

Apricot-Cherry Tart
(Serves 6)

Crust for a 9-inch pie
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter or Earth Balance
3 cups apricots, pits removed and sliced in thick slices
2 cups pitted pie cherries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 to 3/4 cup cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Bake pie crust for 10 minutes, or until just done but not browned.

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.   Blend well.  Cut in butter or Earth Balance until mixture resembles moist crumbles.  Set aside.

Combine apricots, cherries, lemon juice, zest and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Pour into the pie shell.  Sprinkle the crumble topping over the top.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until top is browned and filling is bubbling.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cherry Cobbler

Okay, the picture seriously does not capture the essence of this fabulously easy summer dessert.  It doesn't really matter how neat you can get the crust on, what matters is the taste, which by the way is fantastic.

We take our fruit seriously in the summer.  When it comes to pie cherries, I go for the best at the market.  You can use another tart cherry if you can't find North Star.  You could even use sweet pie cherries like Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks.  I prefer sour cherries in a cobbler and I'm not alone.

These tart cherries from Ayers Creek farm are another favorite.

Pie cherres have the shortest of all seasons for fruit.  Blink and you might miss it.  FYI: this could be the week for North Star cherries from Grouse Mountain.  They may seem costly but think of it this way, it's a once a year experience.  Enjoy while you can.  Give thanks to the bees for minding the pollination duties. 

Pitting pie cherries is messy.  They squirt sticky red juice all over. I've actually made pie cherry smoothies.   Pie cherries, pomegranate juice, banana, and almond butter. WOW!

This cobbler went fast.  Way too fast.

Everybody has a recipe for cherry cobbler.  Most add too much sugar.  You don't need so much sugar when you have the best cherries.   I love the ones from Grouse Mountain.  I'm also crazy about Ayer's Creek cherries, in Gaston, Oregon.  I could be a cherry snob.  I'd probably take out a loan to buy the cherries I love.

I love summer and so does my trusty Cooking Assistant.

Cherry-Blueberry Cobbler
(Serves 4)
I used a frozen pie crust for this cobbler.  Keep it on hand with seasonal fruit and you'll always have the ingredients needed for a cobbler. 

3 cups fresh pitted pie cherries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup blueberries
Pie crust for one 9inch pie
1 tablespoon Earth Balance or butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 400F.  Combine cherries, sugar, arrowroot, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Place in the bottom of a smal casserole dish.  Layer blueberries on top, then lay crust over berries.  Spread with Earth Balance and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Cut slits in crust.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350F. and bake for 30 minutes or until top is browned and juices are clear.  Juice thickens as it cools.

Such laziness with the pie crust is not to be excused so lightly.  Who needs more work in the kitchen?   

I scandalously made pie crust cookies with the leftover dough.  

My Cooking Assistant is still thanking me for the cobbler and sorbet samples.

My Cooking Assistant's pie-in-the-sky dream is so close.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lemon-Cashew Dressing

The heat of summer can drive me away from using the oven and stove.  

I always appreciate this kitchen vacation. It frees up time for more reading.  And writing.  That's why I'm late posting again this week.  

I'm working on an article about honeybees.  The subject fascinates me.  Here are a couple things I found: this movie, this Australian honey beekeepers blog, this leaked document from the EPA, and this article about pesticides killing Canadian bees.  The pesticide industry and its supporters (see Forbes magazine)  seem to continually point to Canada and Australia, saying these countries didn't have colony collapse disorder and their bees are healthy.

Somebody didn't check the Canadians about the health of their bees.   I digress.   Back to the recipe.  It's all about the salad when it's too hot in the kitchen to cook. 

My Cooking Assistant has loved lettuce since he was a puppy.

Add anything in season.

My favorite English shelling peas.

Add a few edible flowers.  Yikes, it looks like someone was already eating them.  You can tell we never spray anything in our garden.  It's a feast for all.

This is the farm store at Gathering Together Farm in Corvallis, Oregon

A shameless plug.  I included lots of salad tips in my book.

This is what you need for this versatile dressing.

Here's the recipe:

Lemon Cashew Dressing
(Makes about 1 cup)

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup apple cider

2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon chia seeds

1 or 2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tablespoon minced sweet onions

1 teaspoon fresh dill

Sea salt and pepper

Water as needed to thin

Soak cashews in apple cider for a few hours or overnight.  Place cashews, cider, lemon juice, chia seeds, pressed garlic, onions and dill in a blender and puree until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Refrigerate for a few hours.  Add water to thin.