Posts tagged ‘cooking’
Lilac buds and vinca flowers in my backyard
The winter, which was a difficult one, has finally given way to spring. It feels like a good time to start new things. Instead of huddling indoors or inside my own head, it’s time to get outside, to build, to create.
First on my list was to create a salad table. If you’re wondering what that is, check out the University of Maryland’s website, Grow It Eat It, which explains how to build your own salad table and has lots of tips on planting and harvesting lettuce greens and herbs. The table is movable, so you can give your greens direct sunlight in the spring, move them into the shade for the heat of summer, and back into direct sunlight for the fall. We did have several types of greens in our vegetable garden last year but they didn’t fare very well, and I’m hoping that I’ll have better luck with a salad table this year.
Yesterday, I painted the table a bright robin’s egg blue. I just planted this morning, so nothing is growing yet, but here’s a “before” photo:
Today I had my first taste of food from our garden. Our collard greens from last year’s planting are up and ready to eat. They’re not very big, but I say let’s just call them microgreens and dig in!
I prepared some using this method from Gourmet.com, which worked great. A little olive oil, garlic, butter beans and vinegar and I had a delicious lunch. I can get used to this.
Our garden has been yielding mountains of zucchini and summer squash every day. To put them all to good use, I set out find a simple recipe for a big pot of soup. The fewer ingredients that weren’t growing outside my door, the better. A quick internet search later, I found this recipe.
Creamy Zucchini Soup
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 4 large zucchini, chopped
- 2 large potatoes, peeled, chopped
- 1L chicken stock
- 3/4 cup cream
- salt and cracked black pepper
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 coarsely chopped onion, 1 crushed garlic clove, 4 large chopped zucchini and 2 large peeled, chopped potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, making sure vegetables don’t brown.
- Add 1L chicken stock and 1 cup water. Bring soup to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
- Blend with a hand-held blender until smooth. Return soup to the heat and add 3/4 cup cream, salt and cracked black pepper.
I doubled the recipe (at least) because I used a couple of zucchinis that were starting to resemble baseball bats. I also replaced some zucchini with summer squash. I didn’t bother peeling the potatoes (the picture above reveals my laziness.) I used vegetable stock instead of chicken. I substituted half and half for the cream, and even used a bit less than the recipe called for. Before using the immsersion blender, I added a few fresh basil leaves. Delicious!
Speaking of my affinity for all things cute, I received a book called Face Food as a gift from my brother. It’s filled with photos of charaben– Japanese character bento boxes. The time and effort that went into creating these edible works of art is awe-inspiring. Here are a few of my favorites:
Wouldn’t you like to see Piglet doing a jig for you when you opened your lunch?
Mr. Strawberry looks rather distinguished, no?
When traveling around Japan to take photographs for his book, Christopher D. Salyers spoke with the creators of the charaben (mostly mothers of young children.) Most of these women told Salyers that their charaben were not meant to be art. Rather, the charaben were created to encourage their children to eat well, to help them to become more popular, and for the enjoyment the characters would bring to them at lunchtime.
The three little pigs appear to have eyes made of poppy seeds. Imagine the time and patience it took to perfectly place each eye, each ear, each snout. Ah, the things we do in pursuit of cute.
Wouldn’t you rather read something else?
There are many other perfectly nice posts for you to read. Why don’t you read one of those instead? Or better yet, go back to the page you were reading before you found this one, and forget you ever saw this terrible page.
This post, unlike all the other completely safe posts you could be reading right now, contains a recipe for Lemony Snickets. If you know anything about Lemony Snicket, you know that reading this post can only lead to very unfortunate things.
If you insist on proceeding, it’s probably safe to scroll down a little to peek at the photographs below. But really, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll stop reading right now.
I tried to warn you. Now I fear you won’t be able to stop yourself from reading this recipe for Lemony Snickets, and nothing good can come of it. Sure, these cookies look innocent enough, but I implore you to believe me when I tell you that they are anything but innocent. You can still click somewhere else. There’s still time.
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1 container (15 oz) low-fat ricotta cheese
4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
6 Tbs lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, then beat in eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and ricotta until blended.
3. Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Cover and chill at least an hour.
4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, and place on cookie sheets.
5. Bake 10 minutes, or until bottoms are light brown. Cool for about 1 minute, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.
6. While they cool, make glaze: Stir confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice in small bowl until smooth. (I added extra lemon juice to make these taste more tangy– I used the juice of 2 and a half lemons.) Drizzle evenly over each cookie. Garnish with sprinkles. Let stand until hardened. (Don’t put these in an airtight container, just cover very lightly if you need to.)
Now you’ve read the recipe, so it’s probably too late for you. But wouldn’t you rather bake something else? Perhaps some oatmeal raisin cookies, or a nice, innocent Bundt cake?
…just a little Food Network humor.
Here’s a yummy pumpkin spice cake recipe I picked up at Weight Watchers a while back (don’t let the Weight Watchers thing scare you, though, because it’s delicious.)
Take one box of spice cake mix (Betty Crocker or similar) and thoroughly mix with one 15 ounce can of pumpkin (use just 100% plain pumpkin, not pie filling.) Add some sweetener to taste (sugar, brown sugar, Splenda, whatever– I used Splenda brown sugar blend.) Spray a pan with Pam or similar (I used a large pie plate.) Bake at 350 degrees until your fork comes out clean (about a half an hour.) Done!
Weight Watchers does not recommend that you top this with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. But I do!
Great family, great times, great pies… lots to be thankful for.