Monday, September 1, 2014

Black Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad

My recipe this week, Black Bean Salad, is an ode to the end of summer.

WIth the bounty of market vegetables, it's hard to pick favorites as the seasons overlap. Beans, corn, tomatoes, eggplant and stone fruits are being replaced by apples, pears, hearty greens and winter squash. Grab your fading summer favorites while you can. 

I skipped a week of posting recipes because my friend from Arizona was here, and I went to Portland and Victoria, British Columbia.

The hounds weren't in agreement about our so-called vacation. They stayed home.

They didn't make it easy to leave.

My friend spent a week on the Oregon coast and I drove to Portland to meet her.  The drive isn't so long if I listen to a book and I listened to this great mystery on the way down.  

We drove to the Columbia River Gorge not expecting the huge traffic jam, but apparently everyone in Portland had the same idea of seeing the waterfalls before summer ends.

When we finally saw the view, it was amazing.

The next day we visited the Hillsdale Farmers' Market before heading back to Seattle.

Wood-fired bagels and the best ever longanberry preserves.

What good is a wood-fired bagel without Ayers Creek loganberry jam?

I barely got all the berries in the freezer before we were off to British Columbia.

We drove to Port Angeles and caught the ferry to Victoria.  So many choices for which route to take--clipper ship, Anacortes ferry, BC ferry and by air.  Since I haven't been that many times I chose the Port Angeles route, which I seriously underestimated the time it took to get from Kingston to Port Angeles, but we made it.  

The ferry coming into Victoria early in the morning.

A trip to Victoria usually involves a trip to Buschart Gardens

The gardens were lovely but the best part for me was the street art.  Check out this art find along the marina walkway.  Check out the link and read the story behind this art.

All this sightseeing made me hungry.  So when we got back, we feasted on artichokes, green beans, tomatoes and corn.

Here is an easy, end-of-summer whole meal salad that doesn't require any cooking at all.

Black bean, Corn and Tomato Salad 
(Serves 4 to 6)

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 ears of corn, corn removed from husks
1/2 cup small dice red pepper
1/2 cup small dice sweet onion
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 cups Romaine lettuce
1/2 avocado, diced
Broken tortilla chips (optional)

1. Place beans, corn, red pepper and onion in a mixing bowl.  Stir to blend and set aside.  In a small bowl combine lime juice, apple cider vinegar, sugar, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, garlic and jalapeno in a bowl.  Whisk to blend and stir into the bean and corn salad.  

2. Gently blend in tomatoes.  Layer beans and corn over Romaine lettuce.  Top with avocado and tortilla chips, if desired.

A perfect end to a long busy Northwest weekend.

This salad is fit to be a meal with or without tortilla chips.  I like to serve them on the side.

I know a hound or two who are really happy dinner is served on time.

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.