Category Archives: misc/ramblings

Kohlrabi with lemon butter

Until this summer I have never had a moment where I craved kohlrabi.  It has always seemed like one of those vegetables that I throw in a salad to provide a little crunch but really doesn’t wow me with flavor.  Our CSA (community supported agriculture – that is for you Mike), provided us with a bunch of these funky looking kohlrabi balls.  I figured it was time for me to get busy using them and discover a recipe that makes me happy to see more kohlrabi instead of ignoring them in the crisper.  This recipe is all about simplicity but every ingredient used is key.  I have made it three times and the second time I left out the parsley as I didn’t have any on hand.  The flavor was only about 80% there and there was nothing more butter or salt or lemon juice could do to make up for the tablespoon of fresh herbage.  So, here is an easy recipe for kohlrabi that reminds me of the decadence of eating a steamed spring artichoke dipped in butter.

Steamed kohlrabi with lemon butter

1.  Trim the leggy looking pieces off one bunch (about 4) kohlrabi so you have a roundish shape but don’t peel.  Steam covered for 40 minutes/until tender

2.  Cool slightly, peel and chop.

3,  In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat; stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic and 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley.  Stir around for about 2 minutes and then add chopped kohlrabi.

4.  Toss kohlrabi to coat and season with salt and pepper.

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Haystacks

One of the meals I like to keep ingredients around so that I can treat friends to an impromptu meal is Haystacks.  This is an ideal meal for summer because if you already have the beans there is very little to prep involving heat.   I generally make up a large batch of refried beans and freeze it in 4 serving sizes.  Then all you need to do is microwave it or warm them on the stove.  When canned refried beans go on sale at our food co-op, I stock the pantry with a dozen or so for camping trips or unexpected guests.  The Eden brand does not use BPA in their can liners so that makes me feel better about opening up a can.  Refried beans, scrambled eggs a tortilla shell and some salsa also make a quick & impressive breakfast.

Boucci’s family has always called this dish “Haystacks”.  I’m not certain where the “hay” part of it comes from…perhaps the high piling on the plates like you do with a barn or trailer at harvest time?  Nice, big smiles abound from friends when they load up their plates like Scotty here Scotty Q works up a healthy appetite by being a bike frame maker extraordinaire and cyclist.  He and Boucci have been great friends since they met in a class in junior high.  Scott’s life revolves around his passion of bicycles and he has had many brilliant wins during his racing career.  All of the cool riders I know have one of his sweet custom rides.  Here is a link to wet your appetite.  Alas, I dream of the day that I can join the cool ranks.  🙂  Right now I am only half-cool since I stoke our custom tandem.  They say your happiness goes back to normal within a week of a new purchase, but I can say that every time I ride the tandem, my happiness quotient goes up and I appreciate it.  My kneecaps are also thankful since they don’t bang the handlebars like our old steed.

These are the goods you need in order to transform hungry bellies into satiated ones:

corn chips*

cheese (I generally use pepper jack or a combo of it w/ a nice melting cheddar or mozzarella)

refried beans

guacamole

lettuce

tomato

salsa

*These Michigan made corn chips are what we have been grooving on lately

Just to forewarn you, Scotty was right on when he said “What!  Do they put nicotine in these things?”

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Haystacks

Haystacks.

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Sandwich Bread

I have been thwarted the last two times I have purchased sandwich bread from the local Stonehouse Bakery.  They use good ingredients but their bread has been afflicted with bread mold the last two times.  This last time, I bought it the day it was made and it still had 4 days left on the exp. but before I could eat a slice – low and behold – spores were growing right under the label.  Boucci recommends something w/ a sourdough starter for longer life expectancy but there are days where I want a nice, soft sandwich.  Not, a sandwich that requires me to gnaw on it or burn a lot of energy chewing.  Yes, some days I am lazy like that and just don’t want to work my jaw muscles.   Mine are pretty toned and all but I just don’t feel like that is an area I need to strength train daily.

I decided no more throwing good bread to my worms.  (Yes, we are proud worm farmers – more on that another day).  So here is my go-to loaf for soft, sandwich bread.

1.5 cups of warm water (102-105 degrees)

1 tablespoon dry yeast

1 heaping tablespoon of honey or sugar

1.5 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup oil (I have used various types with good results.  DO NOT use a high quality olive oil as they do not like heat).

2 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1.5 cups whole wheat or white whole wheat flour

* King Arthur Flour is my favorite.  They are now making organic versions.

1.  Combine first 4 ingredients and allow to sit 5 minutes

2.  Add oil then flours and knead for a few minutes

3.  Let your dough sit in a nice, warm place for 45 minutes – 1hr.  It should double in size.   Meanwhile put a little oil in a 6 cup loaf pan and grease it up.

4.  Gather your dough and form it into a loaf.  Be gentle with it but it should de-poof and you can stretch the top and tuck the sides under.

Let it sit there while your oven warms up to 375 degrees

Bake for 35-40 minutes until it has a lovely brown color.

Let it sit for 10-15 minutes in the pan and then remove and set to cool on a wire rack.

Being around hungry cyclists has been good for my cooking ego.  They have so much gratitude after long rides.  🙂  Young Stephen here recently completed the Lumberjack 100.  Even though he had a mechanical after 5 miles and had to run back and re-start, he churned out an admirable time.  Here’s to completing what you start, hearty appetites and big, soft sandwiches.

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Spring Delights! Asparagus and Morels!

This time of year is filled with so much goodness.  I have been busy with my garden and all of the other 101 distractions that come with spring.  I just love this time of year with all of the plants awakening and blooming.  All of this has led me to neglect posting my recipes.  There are many days where I fix a meal and take a picture but then don’t have the energy to summons writing about it.  Amigo here pretty much captures how I often feel

The other day we took a tandem mountain bike ride through Arcadia.  It was loaded with Trillium and other spring flowers.  It is truly an outstanding trail.  I feel like I am riding through someone’s flower garden for miles and miles.  One of the nicest things about the ride was when we were taking a break, I spotted a morel!  Then we started looking around and found a load of them.  We were with some friends and we all filled our jersey pockets as much as possible.  I think our load was well over 20.  We also picked some wild leeks and with our bounty, I ended up preparing a tasty spring dish.

Here is how I went about the preparation.

1.  Sauted up 4 leeks with a sweet yellow onion for about 5 minutes

2.  Added chopped morels and sauted for another 10 minutes

3.  Then I tossed in some local asparagus until it was tender – 4/5 minutes

Meanwhile I boiled some pasta.

4.  I tossed it together w/ some good olive oil, about 1/2 cup of cream, cherry tomatoes for a little color and a little Parmesean for a touch of decadence.  

More happy things to report are that my Aunt has a new puppy!  He is extremely sweet, smart and adorable.  It was pretty amusing as I haven’t seen her in a while and we both ended up wearing matching skirts 🙂Hope you are enjoying spring’s bounty as well!

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Hot and Spicy Tofu Dish

Wow!  The holidays were crazy busy.  I am a vegetarian and have been for about 24 years…not something I have calculated in a long time…  In my teenage years I was a bit evangelical about it (probably hard for some to tolerate).    Somehow, I wound up cooking part of an EXTREMELY large bird on Christmas eve which was a bit bizarre as I have no knowledge on how to deal with meat or EXCEEDINGLY large chunks.   I will spare you the bloody insanity.  My folks had to do something about their gargantuan turkeys since they were getting too heavy for their legs.  The smallest one weighed in at 46 lbs after it had been butchered.  The Vietnamese woman they know from the farmer’s market ended up offering to do the deed.   As if we didn’t have enough going on for the holidays, these heavy turkeys were added to the list.  Those big guys and Boucci’s foot going through the ceiling of my parent’s bedroom will make for a mighty memorable Christmas Eve.  Otherwise, everything was magnificent.  Hope you were able to enjoy the holiday season!

This tofu dish is one of my all time favorites.  It is spicy and light but filling.  A nice dish to spice/lighten things up from holiday indulgence.

If you have an adventurous palate, this is the dish for you!

2/3 cup soy sauce/tamari

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 big jalapeno

squeeze one lemon or 1/4 cup juice

1 teaspoon of sugar

2 cups mung bean sprouts

1 cucumber cut in half, seeded and sliced about 1/2 inch

oil for browning tofu

brown rice

toasted peanuts

Directions:
1.  Mix sauce ingredients

2.  Blanch mung sprouts by placing them in a strainer and pouring boiling water over them – then pour cold water over them.

3.  Saute pressed tofu in 1/2 inch slices until browned (about 10 minutes while tossing/flipping).  I add a little soy sauce at the end.

4.  Serve up with rice, fried tofu, cucumbers, mungs and drizzle w/ sauce.  Then garnish with peanuts.

 

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Sandwich to Scarf and Scarf Weather

Winter is here!

What started with a dusting, has turned into drifts.   Zinnie pictured above  is thinking that I need to get on my “good” clothes!  When they are on we can play!

She is very intense about playing games and retrieving.

WEEE!  Glorious Snow

Oh me, oh my!   It has been one crazy week with lots of driving and bad roads to boot.  I cannot believe it is already Thursday and I haven’t really had time to spend in the kitchen.  I stayed up way too late last night cleaning.  One thing led to another and by the time I knew it the date had changed.  I love my bed and sleep is very important to me so I usually go to bed fairly early – like by 10:00.

This morning I got out of bed a little late so I really had to hustle.   My pups need a good 3 walks a day so that the household is sane.  I hear stories about people with dogs having things like their couch eaten.  From my experience, lots of exercise for my pups = no damage.  When I saw the clock this morning, I threw on my clothes and hurried out the door without even a swill of coffee.

There is this guy who I refer to as Cranky Pants.  He walks the same trails with his retrievers that I do and he has been rather rude to Boucci by shouting things and making bad gestures.  I have also observed him walking on the road and shaking his fist at cars and for no apparent reason.  Bicycles and an elderly neighbor that walks his collie also appear to irritate him.  I always wave and smile at him when I pass by in a car or on my bicycle although I am usually rewarded with a frowny face.  I did have a couple of occasions this summer where I forced a wave out of him as I was doing yard work, but his general state is an angry looking grimace.  I think one reason he may be cranky is due to the fact that his pants are exceedingly tight.  I too would grimace if I wore pants that tight but regardless of what is causing his issues, I have NO desire to encounter him on the trails alone.  I do not like to be yelled at and I would be mortified if he said or made obscene gestures.  He is very schedule oriented so I time my walks to avoid encounters.  This morning, I was late out the door and there is deep snow.  I am not inclined to run nor do I enjoy running, but run I did.  I was very stoked that I made it through the loop I normally walk and that it was uneventful.  When I arrived back home, I walked in the sunroom (which we keep just above freezing in the winter so that the plants don’t die) and it felt downright balmy.  I was so paranoid about getting through the trails quickly that I hadn’t really noticed that it was 12 degrees out!  I decided to reward my quick and nimble self with a delicious sandwich.  It really hit the spot!

To create a delicious sandwich like the one I scarfed down, you start with eggs and bread.  These eggs come from my parents’ hens.  They have quite a variety of breeds.  Some are pretty fancy and regal looking.  Did you know that chickens lay eggs the same color as their earlobes?  The yolks on these eggs are almost radioactive looking as they are a deep orange and extremely vibrant.  I think it is due to all their free-ranging and kitchen scraps my mother feeds them.

Here are the goods for the filling of your sandwich:  swiss cheese, avocado and tomato.  It is always handy to have a kitchen helper for instances when you drop something.

1.  Scramble your eggs

2.  Slice cheese, avocado and tomato.  I used 1/2 of the latter.

3.  Lightly toast the bread with cheese so that it softens.

4.  Assemble, add salt, ground pepper and enjoy!

I hope your tongue is getting many marvelous tastes this week!

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