Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Color and the Summer Salad

I had big plans of doing a series of photos capturing all the salads we've been eating with our meals lately and demonstrating the significance of color in salad appeal. Sadly, my camera was left - along with a chunk of my heart (2 terribly adorable little girls) - at a dear friend's house in Seattle. So please bear with me.

It is difficult to rouse oneself to want to eat dinner when it LOOKS bland on the plate. I have several tricks for this. One, is RED plates, gloriously deep, yet bright, red plates. If I know a meal is going to lack a little color, I pull out the red plates (our larger set of plates are a simple, modern grey).

My second trick, is to almost always include a side salad. It doesn't have to be a boring lettuce-carrot-onion salad, it doesn't even have to have lettuce (I suggest finely chopped parsley or cilantro for a little kick). It does, however have to have several different colors shapes and textures to entice the eye, and then satisfy the tongue.

This may go without saying, but varying the presentation of the salad (even the "boring" one), can have tremendous effect. For example, thinly cut carrot "sticks" one night, rounds the next, triangles the following, and another favorite presentation trick of mine: strips of peeled carrot. I like the last option additionally because it is so easy. Peel the outer skin into the compost bucket, and then peel, peel, peel the rest onto the salad. I also vary the lettuce presentation: torn, chopped, shredded.

I like to throw unexpected items into our nightly salads. This is usually an impromptu affair to help use up whatever we might have on hand. Diced cherries, thinly sliced, or cubed apples or pears, raisins, nuts, leftover steamed veggies or cubed leftover baked potatoes. The salad is my nightly creative endeavor. Do you have a favorite unexpected salad addition? Please share!

Lastly, though not a help with color (and remember, various colors mean various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients), I also vary the dressing. Of course the basic, olive oil, flax seed oil, lemon, salt and pepper remain, but there are 9 different vinegars in my cupboards, various mustards, fresh fruits, cayenne or oregano or basil or thyme - you get the idea. I do prefer vinaigrettes however, not only for their taste, but also their simplicity. I keep empty spice jars, pour in the ingredients, shake it up, pour it on and toss. Done. A little added elegance and appeal to the meal.

I know there is something to the visual appeal of a salad because my nearly 3-year-old, who for the most part will not eat a salad, always insists that I put some on his plate (he will pick stuff out, but all that raw veggie goodness is hard to chew for kids without all their molars. Also, kids have a hard time converting beta carotene into vitamin A. Butter is a better source for easily assimilated vitamin A) . He won't start unless it looks right (and, of course, he wants his plate to look like ours).

For lack of photos to convince, I have used a plethora of words. I hope it has worked and that you feel inspired to get creative with your salads. I want a report back!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Frittatas, aka Egg Pizza

This is one of the simplest, seemingly indulgent breakfasts we have found (and it works for dinner in a pinch too - add some chopped leftover chicken or ham).

You will need a skillet that is NOT non-stick, and can go from stove top to oven (cast iron or stainless steel would be best), 6 eggs, butter (or coconut oil and olive oil), cheese, and whatever vegetables will bring color and crunch and clean out your crisper.

Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in the pan on medium heat and then saute your toppings (onion, garlic, carrots, broccoli, peas, squash, spinach, etcetera - i.e. anything you might like or that is leftover in your produce drawer - see my leftovers below).

Meanwhile whisk 6 eggs together in a bowl and add a good amount of some grated cheese.

Take your sauted mix of veggies and add them into the bowl of eggs and cheese.

Melt a little more butter in the pan and then pour the whole egg-cheese-veggie mixture back into the pan and cook for 5 minutes over medium. Add another good amount of cheese over the top of the mixture and move the pan into the oven set on broil for 5 minutes.

Remove, slice into wedges, serve (perhaps with a little dollop of cultured creme, diced tomatoes, avocado slices, and some cilantro) and enjoy!

Soren: Momma, what's for breakfast?
Momma: Frittatas!
Soren: No, I don't like tattas.
Momma: It's egg pizza.
Soren: Mmmm, I like egg pizza.
Momma: Good!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

To Market, To Market: Mid-July

Our last, and most delicious CSA box was picked up on Saturday.

It contained the following:

Sumptuous Cherries. Mainly devoured, but also used to add color and sweetness to a salad.

A HUGE head of lettuce. I love it . Side salads all week!

Sweet sugar peas. Also lovely in salads...but so good lightly steamed, and a fresh delicious snack...a much happier discovery than the toxic fava beans.

There is something so beautiful about a head of Cauliflower. I think we will enjoy this tonight steamed with plenty of butter and sea salt. I also have a delicious cauliflower souffle recipe that I might break out.

More Rhubarb! I am thinking more pie. I do have a recipie for stewed rhubarb that sounds that might happen as well.

More summer squash. This too makes it into our daily salads. Last week it made it into some noodle-less pasta sauce...this week??? I am preparing a vegetable bean soup that will probably need at least one of those lovely green tubers.

This beautiful edible plant I still don't know what is...but it was put to immediate good use to decorate the birthday cake on Saturday:

Elliot 1, Husband 40. Soren and I should have dueling cakes next month.

In My Kitchen: A Sunday in July

Today in my kitchen I...

Made Husband's coffee.

Fried our last two eggs for Husband's breakfast, while the boys and I enjoyed the remaining quiche from yesterday.

Didn't have to prepare lunch because we were at a church picnic.

Started a new batch of Kombucha.

Snacked on fresh berries with the boys while I made a huge colorful salad to bring to our other church potluck for dinner. I packed up the leftover cake as well.

Binged on milk that tasted like ice cream.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Set out oats for tomorrow.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Saturday in July

Today in my kitchen I...

Made scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.

Made husband's latte.

Mixed and baked Elliot's cake.

Slow roasted beets.

Made the frosting for Elliot's cake.

Made pie dough.

Made quiche filling (sauted red onions, broccoli stems, zucchini, added to cheese, sour cream, cream, and 3 eggs plus salt, pepper, and basil).

Pre-baked pie dough.

Baked quiche.

Made a salad (and mixed in left-over chismole) and dressing.

Frosted and decorated Elliot's cake.

Turned out Husband's frosting-less cake.

Made a honey sweetened herbal iced infusion with pomegranate juice for the party.

Snacked on freshly picked blueberries (yes, Husband and Soren went out picking again this morning!).

Ate a delicious smattering of all the above concoctions (along with some brauts that Husband grilled up out on the balcony with our little Weber camping grill - and the ice cream I made last night) with a lovely collection of people we love in honor of Elliot and Husband.

Snacked on left over enchiladas for dinner.

Fed the sourdough mother.

Friday, July 11, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Friday in July

Today in my kitchen...

I made our oat porridge and husbands "latte".

I filtered the finished cold-water extract.

I started soaking the flour for Elliot's birthday cake for tomorrow.

We snacked on bread and butter.

We lunched on peanut butter, butter, and honey sandwiches with full glasses of real milk.

I made sourdough dough and fed the new mother.

We snacked on an apple and some no-refined-sugar black licorice.

I made chismole (tomato, onion, lemon, cilantro, oregano - toss and let sit an hour before serving).

I made green enchilada sauce.

I made chicken enchilada's with the left-over chicken from last week's broth making, and served it to my family and some friends alongside the chismole and cultured sour cream (I would have used creme fraiche, but it was too overpriced. Trader Joe's is a great place to buy creme fraiche if you don't make it yourself).

We enjoyed the remaining strawberry ice cream for dessert.

I made vanilla ice cream for tomorrow's birthday extravaganza (do you like how it gets more and more built up with each day that passes?).

I baked the risen bread and enjoyed the first fruits with the last (very sad - no more raw cream) of my homemade raw butter.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Thursday in July

Today in my kitchen:

I cooked the oats with the usual fare - and additional blueberries.

I packed a lunch of chicken sandwiches with zucchini for the adults and PB and Honey for the kiddos for some adventures down the street (well, several long blocks down the street) to watch construction work.

I soaked coarsely ground decaf coffee beans for husband's cold-water extract.

I fed the sourdough mother.

I made dinner of poached salmon, rice, and a zucchini, carrot, chickpea "slaw".

I mixed and cooked Husband's cake, and then covered it in juices to further ferment on the counter until Saturday.

I soaked the oats for tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Wednesday in July

Today in my kitchen:

I made breakfast of soaked oats and the usual morning fare.

I packed peanut butter honey sandwiches for the boys and my milk adventure, and left husband with a chicken sandwich with yummy avocado.

I brought home A LOT of milk to sit briefly in our two milk refrigerators until pick-up.

Elliot and I snacked on yogurt and frozen berries.

I finely grated 2 cups of carrots for Elliot's birthday cake prep for Saturday.

I started soaking the flour for Husband's birthday cake for Saturday.

I slowly cooked the previously soaked chickpeas.

I fed the sourdough mother.

I marinated ground beef to prepare for dinner.

I cooked a simple quick dinner (Wednesday's must be simple due to milk adventure) of a chunky vegetable beef tomato sauce, served with out pasta, and served alongside a green salad with raw-apple-cider/dijon vinaigrette and a butter slathered piece of sourdough.

We ate leftover strawberry ice cream for dessert.

Husband and I picked all the skins off the chickpeas once they were done cooking.

I set the oats to soak for tomorrow's breakfast.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Food For Thought: Butter

Left to Right:

Trader Joe's pasteurized unsalted butter from cows not treated with rBST

Organic Valley's limited edition organic pasture butter, salted cultured butter

Homemade, raw salted butter from pasture-fed jersey cows

The color comes from nutrient density.

In My Kitchen: A Tuesday in July

Today in my kitchen:

I made the soaked oats for breakfast again with maple syrup and frozen strawberries. Even husband finished his porridge!

I made husband a decaf cold-water extract vanilla au lait (yes, he is a high-maintenance coffee guy, and married to a former barista - but we have weaned him off acidic coffee and caffeinated coffee all in the last 3 months), and Soren and I enjoyed steamed molasses'. Elliot tasted the foam.

My Soren and I enjoyed a grapefruit together for snack while Elliot napped

I fed the sourdough mother.

We were brought some goat's milk queso to sample and enjoy...I am thinking I will have to work enchiladas into this week's dinners.

I made chicken and chevre sandwiches with butter lettuce for Husband's lunch with carrot sticks and pineapple slices. The chicken was left over from making stock last week.

I made peanut-butter, butter, and honey sandwiches with carrot sticks for me and the boys for lunch, along with ample raw milk.

I started soaking chickpeas for hummus tomorrow night.

I chopped crispy pecans and crushed pineapple to prep for this weekend's cake.

We were invited out to the farm for dinner - so my evening kitchen plans are put off for another day! But I will surely set the oats out to soak for tomorrow's breakfast when we get home.

Monday, July 7, 2008

In My Kitchen: A Monday in July

The following things happened in my kitchen today:

Soaked oats were cooked and served with maple syrup, frozen we-picked berries, and butter for breakfast, along with a mug of raw milk and a does of cod liver oil.

Soaked pecans were rinsed and slow roasted all day in my warm oven (preparing for a birthday cake for this Saturday)

Yogurt was separated into whey and cream cheese (also needed for this Saturday's cakes)

The sourdough mother was fed.

The last of the frozen berries were bagged away for future indulgence (perchance a debut on some cake?).

Tuna sandwiches were made (yes, tuna from a can) and served with cheese and carrot slices, and more real milk for lunch.

Dinner was delightfully simple, freshly caught steelhead with a salad of the random veggies in my drawer (butter lettuce, zucchini, carrots, avocado, onion) and homemade raw apple cider vinaigrette. Yes...more milk, and usually kombucha - but we're out until Wednesday.

After dinner, simple ice cream was made from pasteurized cream (sadly), egg yolks, maple syrup, LOTS of frozen strawberries (pureed in my processor), and some vanilla extract.

Oats were set to lacto-ferment for tomorrow's breakfast.

What a Catch!

It doesn't get more fresh and local than to send your husband out fishing at first light in order to have him come home at 11am with a 9 pound steelhead that he flays so quickly on your kitchen counter that you don't have time to find a camera.

Dinner at 5:30pm that was alive at 9:30am, plus more in the freezer: I love it.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I-Picked: Berry Fantastico

This cache was $17.02. 14 pounds of perfect fruit, each berry hand-selected by husband, son, and I, for $17 and 2 cents. I do not know why I ever step foot in grocery stores, especially here where there are farms aplenty in just a short drive away from town (read, 20 minutes).

Produce was the only thing I had been going to the grocery store for now anyhow (what with Azure Standard covering the pantry so well), and now...well, I have no excuse (except banana's, potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery out of season...these are staples I cannot, thus far, live without...perhaps someday I will be able to grown them myself for myself, but until then, we will enjoy our WholeFoods treks in the stroller).

ps - We're doing more picking tomorrow! No more store bought frozen berries either...I can do that myself too!

Food For Five Senses

See the colors.

Smell the fresh raspberry vinaigrette and the lamb's accompanying sauce.

Feel the various textures in your mouth.

Hear the crunch of salad and of satisfied men saying "mmm" as they share about their day.

Taste the sour bread with butter, the buttered and salted broccoli, the fresh raw salad, and the rich lamb shanks with the boiled down cooking liquids and spices (tomato, wine, broth, cumin, pepper, cayenne, thyme and garlic).

This is why I love to cook.

To Market, To Market: Early July

This week's produce box from Sungold Farms (just half-way through our gift from this dear lady) contained the following:

Green Cabbage (time to make more sauerkraut!),

Beets (oh, slow baked bulbs with just steamed greens smothered in butter),

Green Butter Lettuce (should be enough for perhaps 3 salads to accompany dinner this week),

More Rhubarb (which means, more pie - unless I get crafty),

Dried Beans (nice and easy soup this week - hope there is a cool day for cooking),

Zucchini (I am thinking, perhaps, crunchy black bean salad...but we shall see),

And More Anemia-Inducing Fava Beans (which means I might have to bite the bullet and try them out in the aforementioned soup...I just did some research and discovered that they are primarily a risk to people of middle-eastern dissent, which none of us, to soup they go! Or perhaps steamed and tossed in a salad...we shall see).


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