Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's still summer

This flower, aptly named September Charm, is a  Japanese Anenome. I think it is one of the best fall perennials.  It grows between 1-5 feet tall and has almost saucer shaped flowers. When most other flowers are on their way out this plant will shine.

    Another fall favorite, is the purple Aster.   

In spite of the fact that my calender shows me it's nearly October, I'm still believing it's summer with
the temperatures in the mid 80's.  By the looks 
of these raspberries they are in agreement. 

I need to hang on to the warmth of these days. 
However, I can't overlook the obvious.  The day light hours are getting shorter as the sun sets earlier.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Olive Balls

I made this appetizer for some friends the other day.  When my boys were small it was always requested for family get togethers.  The only problem was in making sure there were some on the plate when the guests arrived. 
My Mom gave me this recipe but I think the original came from Bisquick and made 45.
1 C shredded cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1/4 C butter, softened 
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 C Bisquick baking mix
1(5 oz) jar pimento stuffed olives.
Heat the oven to 400. Mix cheese,  butter and Worcestershire sauce;
then mix in baking mix til dough forms (work with hands if necessary). 
Pat olives completely dry on paper towels. 
Shape 1 tsp dough around each olive. 
Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet til light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Now that I'm in the mile high city, I've had to adjust for altitude-
Heat oven to 425. Decrease baking mix to 3/4 C and add 1/4 cup all purpose or white whole wheat flour. 
A few other changes:  Now I use a good quality white sharp cheddar, like Dubliner Cheese; and I've replaced the small olives with large ones, so it makes about 30 olive balls.  Best served warm, but room temperature works also.  They are almost addicting.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kale Chips

With the abundance of Kale growing in my gardens, I have been eager to try the latest food craze- KALE CHIPS. 
They are low in calories, and come with a nutritional boost of  Vitamins A, C, Calcium and Potassium.  According to my October issue of Eating Well magazine, a cup of Kale has six times the daily value of bone-healthy vitamin K.
For two people I used one large stem and cut the leafy parts away from the center vein, then tore them into two inch pieces.  It made about eight cups.  Drizzle half a tablespoon of extra-virgin-olive-oil over the dry leaves, sprinkle with only 1/8 teaspoon of salt and work that in with your hands. 
They baked in the top third of a 400 degree oven, on one cookie sheet about 10 minutes. They really were very tasty.  So in addition to adding to soups and salads, I now have another use for my kale.  Try not to overcrowd them; use two sheets if you need to and switch them from top to bottom half way through baking.  They are definitely worth trying.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Red Potato Salad

Someone brought this salad to my house once for a Bar-B-Que.  They bought it at the Whole Foods Deli counter.  It was really good and really healthy since it wasn't loaded with copious amounts of mayonnaise. Turns out that I was able to find the recipe on the web. (What would we do without the internet?) You need to try this.

It's listed as Vegan Red Potato Salad from the Whole foods Cookbook recipe #83664If you miss the crunch in your potato salad, just add some chopped celery.

45 min/ 15 min
Serves 6

3 lbs red potatoes
½ C chopped parsley
6 scallions, finely sliced
2 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp pepper
¼ C Dijon
½ C Olive oil
½pineapple juice
1/8 C cider vinegar
6 basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

1.        Quarter potatoes and steam for 20-30 minutes, or until tender.
2.       Toss vegetables in a large bowl with salt and pepper and set aside.
3.       While potatoes steam, make salad dressing; in a food processor, add mustard and oil and blend well.
4.       Add juice, vinegar, basil, and spices, processing until smooth.
5.       Once potatoes cool, add them to the bowl of seasoned veggies.
6.       Mix well.
7.       Drizzle in dressing and toss to coat.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This sky is amazing. Full moon arising.  I am so impressed.  How can't you be when nature is so wonderful?  It's not like we did anything to make this happen.

Just sitting on the back deck, enjoying time together, waiting for evening to fall.  Aspens do make a great frame for a beautiful night sky.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Toasted goat cheese rounds

Here's a great way to jazz up your evening salad.  Goat cheese comes in packages shaped like logs.  Slice the cheese into 1/2" rounds, about an ounce each. 
Have one beaten egg with freshly ground pepper in one bowl, and 1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs sprinkled with herbs of your choice in another bowl. This ratio will cover 6-8 pieces, 2 per person.  First dip the cheese in the egg mixture, then coat on all sides with the Panko, pressing slightly. 
Bake on a greased pan in a 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or til lightly browned, turning once.  
I am also a big fan of lentils, all varieties.  The small black and french green lentils are especially good in salads because they remain firm after cooking and have a rich flavor.   Fresh greens, topped with 1/2 cup of lentils, oven roasted tomatoes and crusted goat cheese will make any dinner special.
Here's my go to salad dressing, when I need it quick:   Whisk together: 1 Tb chopped garlic, 1 Tb mayo, 1 1/2 Tb red wine vinegar, and 1 1/2 Tb balsamic vinegar.  Slowly whisk in 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Time for Salsa

Looking at all these tomatoes, and the rain coming down outside, my light bulb moment suggested that it might be a good day to can a batch of salsa.
The first step was to blanch the tomatoes so I could peel and core them.  Then gather the rest of the ingredients, and commence cutting and chopping.  Most cooks have their own special ingredient they like to add.  Me being an Iowa girl, I add corn to my salsa.
Three large green peppers, ten cups of  tomatoes, and three ears of corn.  A great way to cut and catch the corn from the cob is to place the stem end on the raised center of a bundt pan.  Slice close to the cob from top to bottom and slowly spin the cob around until you've got it all.
More chopping: three cups of onions, nearly two cups of roasted big jim peppers, a red and green serrano, some garlic and cilantro.  A day later, and my right thumb is still sore from all that knife work.  In the mean time, I sterilized the mason jars and lids.
Cooking down some of the liquid, after adding the vinegar.
Everything went well during processing and now there are eight pints of salsa for the winter pantry.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Refuge house for overgrown plants

I know you've heard of the horse rescue and dog rescue facilities.  Well, my friends consider me the plant rescue house for their overgrown plants.  I'm really happy to take them in.  Last year a friend of mine had a Shefflera that had outgrown the space it was given. This plant was and still is really huge.  Believe it or not, I cut off at least a third of the plant because it was just too big. It has got to be almost 5' tall and 6' or more in width.  But appears quite happy here and has the space to grow.
Last week another friend commented that she new I had taken someone's plant and would I take her palm.  Of course I would, there was no doubt.  They've both been to my house multiple times and have seen the greenery.
I was glad she told me to bring the truck, instead of the little car, which is what I always drive, because it just wouldn't fit in the front seat.  Like the other, it is nearly 5 feet tall, and fortunately was backed up against a wall, which is where I was going to put it, so all it's growth is coming forward.  It's very healthy, as was the Schefflera.  So after more thinking, I shouldn't call my house a rescue, that term usually refers to bringing in 'something' that is not doing well and needs to be saved.  This is more of an adoption.  Anyway, I'll do my best to ease them into my family of flora.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Organize your freezer

I have a small stand up freezer down in the basement.  It seemed the logical place to put this unit, since it's cooler down there, which helps it to run more efficiently.  There are three shelves along with a few narrow shelves on the door.  No matter how I tried to organize the food I put in it, there was always a battle as to what was were.  Especially when I sent 'the other half' to retrieve something.  I wrote lists in my PDA.  I typed lists into a folder on my computer- top shelf, middle shelf, bottom shelf, door.... Still, it could take forever to find what was needed.
I decided to get it organized for good or get rid of it.  I shopped at several places.  Nothing that was designed for the freezer was adequate.  I wanted white metal baskets with ventilation holes.  Finally.... at the Container Store, I was left to my own devices and found the perfect solution. They are stackable mesh baskets intended to help reduce clutter in some part of the house.
I bought five baskets.  They are 15" deep, 12" wide and 8 1/2" tall.  Two of them can sit side by side on a shelf.  While one basket sits alone, the surrounding open space is for larger items.  Trying to figure out how to label my new containers was a challenge, because we all know that tape and labels always come off in the freezer.   I came up with a diagram and basic legend -Seafood, Chicken, Vegetables..and so on, that I can slip into a plastic sleeve on the front of the freezer door.  Now there is no excuse for anyone not to be able to find what they went looking for.