I moved!

Hello friends,

First of all, thanks for reading my little blog. It has been a really fun few months and I’m hoping for many more.

Second of all, I have a very exciting announcement! This blog has officially moved! From now on, you can find me at pdxfoodlove.com

See you on the other side! :)


Goodies from the Library

I can’t believe I didn’t already know about this book, but I stumbled upon it thanks to a great feature of the Multnomah County Library called “Lucky Day” where they try to promote popular reads.

I am so excited to start reading this! Though, it will be a lot of bad news. It makes me happy that right now we are exclusively eating tomatoes from our backyard and from our CSA, but that is most certainly not always the case.  I think there’s a good chance this book will make it more of a priority.

This cookbook that I picked up is packed with information. Not only does it include the ins and outs of regular canning, but it is a full cookbook worth of recipes for preserves, pickles, and more. It also has some really interesting tips about how to store vegetables – for example, did you know that you can store carrots in a box full of dirt in your basement, and they will keep for months? It also has how-tos for braiding garlic, drying tomatoes and tons of other old-school processes that we pay a premium for at grocery stores. Maybe it’s time to do it myself!

Pondering tomatoes. We have a lot of them.

These are the tomatoes that I picked during one weekday last week. Since then we’ve made homemade salsa (twice), eaten plenty of them raw and in salads and we still have a bunch of them — which I love.

I’ve decided that this summer and fall I will try to see how many ways I can use them creatively. I’d like to learn to can, but I also have discovered that I could dry them in the sun or in the oven and keep them for a later date. I could also probably pack them in oil and charge $6/pint… hmm…(but seriously, how awesome does having homemade dried tomatoes sound?)

Long story short, I am on the lookout for creative, frugal and/or interesting ways to use lots of homemade tomatoes. I think this is an opportunity to learn a lot and make good use of the literal fruits of our effort. Send me your ideas!

Swoon-worthy Molasses Cookies

I know there are two schools of thought when it comes to cookies, so I had better go right out and say it: with a few exceptions, I am a soft and chewy cookie person. The kind of person that usually subtracts 1-2 minutes of bake time from any new recipe just to be certain I don’t overcook. It’s not to say I don’t love the occasional crispy cookie. But I completely melt for chewy ones.

I can’t believe this is the first cookie post I’ll have made on this blog. Expect many more to come. I love making cookies more than any other dessert, but it’s tough to pass up on delicious fruit desserts when there’s so much fresh summer produce.

However, I’ve been thinking for a while that I need to try making these delicious molasses cookies:

Good, right? Look at that crevice of molassesy goodness. That is what makes these i

The recipe I used for these cookies is from Joy of Baking. For two dozen cookies, you will need:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup  dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable, canola, or safflower oil
  • 1/3 cup  molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Allow the butter to come up to room temperature while you sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar for several minutes until they are well-mixed and fluffy.

Next, add the molasses, egg, and oil and keep mixing.

Add the dry ingredients and mix (slowly, or that flour is going everywhere!) Then cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Put about 1/2 cup of sugar into a small bowl and use a small cookie scoop to make balls of dough, and then drop them into the sugar and roll them around to coat the cookie.

Then, flatten them out to about 1/3 of an inch. Give them more space than I did here, or add some flour to the dough if you prefer cookies with more height. These cookies spread way out during baking.

Cook at 375 for about 10 minutes, switching your baking sheets halfway through.

Allow to set up another 10 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks.

And then take glamour shots of your cookies:

So. Tasty. I brought two of these to work today and told myself I’d eat one and save the other for a little treat when I finished my project. When I finished the project, the cookies were already gone.

Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho

Gazpacho doesn’t alway get the love it deserves. I get it: cold soups aren’t a huge part of American cuisine. But that should change! And this recipe is only one reason why.

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 large red bell peppers, cored and quartered
  • 2 large yellow bell peppers, cored and quartered
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 large white onion, cut into 1/2-inch slabs
  • 2 ears of corn, husked
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

Here’s what you do:

Light your grill and chop all of your vegetables into rough chunks and skewer.

Even the garlic!

Lightly brush the garlic, bell peppers, zucchini, onion and corn with the vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables over moderately high heat, turning frequently, until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.

The corn can go straight onto the grill.

When done, the veggies should have a really lovely char to them.
Meanwhile, remove the garlic cloves from the skewers, peel them and transfer to a large bowl. Using a large serrated knife, cut the charred corn kernels into the bowl. Peel the peppers and add them to the bowl along with the zucchini, onion, cumin, crushed red pepper, tomato juice, orange juice, lemon juice and vinegar.

Working in batches, puree the vegetable mixture in a blender or food processor. Pour the gazpacho into a clean bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
Just before serving, stir the cilantro into the gazpacho. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the cucumber slices and serve.
And an option that made our gazpacho even more amazing was the seared scallops. They were very simply seared, salted and peppered, and everyone added two or three to their bowl.

This recipe makes probably 8 or more first-course servings of gazpacho and only gets better with age. Perfect for enjoying with a table full of friends or family.

Cool Watermelon Salad for a Hot Summer

When Dave and I landed in Chicago two Thursdays ago, we had no sooner gotten to the house than Dave’s parents arrived home with bags and bags of fresh and beautiful produce to make dinner with tonight. We had cedar-grilled salmon, roasted vegetable gazpacho (a recipe for another post) and this refreshing watermelon salad.

We blended quite a few recipes together to get the mix we ended up with. For enough to feed at least 8 people, you will need:

  • Two bell peppers – use yellow for color contrast :)
  • 4-5 cups of cubed watermelon
  • One red onion
  • One large cucumber
  • 3-4 ounces of feta or more – to taste
  • olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar – we used a raspberry balsamic
  • Salt and pepper. Naturally.
  • A good handful of fresh mint leaves

As with most salads, getting the right combination of flavors is the tough part, and then you just need to start chopping!

Make sure you cut the melon really close to the rind — that’s the best part.

Make sure you use a really big bowl to mix this salad – I thought I had a big enough bowl, and ended up having to mix verrrry carefully with clean hands.

Cut up all of your produce in different shapes and crumble the feta over top. Chop the mint and add it last.

With the dressing, you can adjust for how much you want, but go for a 1:2 ratio of balsamic vinegar to olive oil. It really does not take a lot to give everything a light coating.

It turned out to be gorgeous! And delicious. What is your favorite summer salad recipe?

First CSA box in three weeks!

Since we have been traveling a lot, we put our CSA on hold, and while it was definitely a wise decision, I really missed my bi-weekly produce box. I had actually thought that we would start up again next week, but I’m really pleased that I was wrong!

Why? Because this Thursday we have a wonderful guest coming to visit: my good friend Mary. And it is very important to me to shower her with as many delicious treats as possible (duh).

So (ahem, Mary), here’s what we’re looking at for the next two weeks:

Beets, gorgeous romaine, a cantaloupe, fresh corn, two onions, two zucchini, broccoli (first in a while!), bell peppers, beautiful green beans, donut peaches, pluots (?!) and nectarines.

How excited am I about these…

Beets! (Battlestar… you know you’re saying it in your head.) I think a salad with some quinoa is in order.

This is definitely at least two meals’ worth of green beans. May have to tempura-fy them. Yes, I did mean tempura-fy and not tempura-fry.

If I was on a desert island and could only live off of one type of food… I’d pick tomatoes with no regrets. Two items? Tomatoes and sharp cheddar. Best comfort food ever. For some reason.

One yellow onion + one red onion = a perfect supply.

Annnnd… pluots. Apparently. Wikipedia tells me that they are only one of several hybrids of plums and apricots (besides apriums, peacotums (really?) and plumcots). This one is engineered to be mostly plum-leaning. They are sweet, delicious, and high in Vitamin A.

That reminds me — does anyone remember Grapeles? Now those were a riot.