This summer, I had the joy of watching the little seeds and
starts I plopped
into my little edible garden stretch and blossom. As a
new vegetable gardener, I expected that not everything would go as
planned. A “cabbage” grew up to be a giant Brussels sprout that
took over a corner of the garden, shading out a few things planted
a little to closely. Some purple radishes never really plumped past
a skinny root, carrot seeds never quite figured out that summer had
come. I had squash blossoms aplenty, but little in the way of
But oh, the tomatoes. A couple plants snaked their way through
the garden, bloomed and were produced prolifically. Also on the
garden’s plus side were basil, sage and lettuce that added fresh
flourishes to summer meals.
And with some of the little that remains, I recently made my
favorite summer meal.
Caprese salad is a somewhat new-found taste. Though I may have
had it before, the first time I remember it clearly was
eating it at a North Kitsap fire station. I’d been invited to a
meal there, and among the other great dishes was caprese salad.
(Side note: I learned from being a crime and public safety reporter
was that firefighters make some darn fine meals, so if you ever see
a chance for such a meal, jump at it.) Though wary at first, from
the first bite I was in love. The combination of basil, tomatoes,
olive oil and Balsamic vinegar was a simply beautiful bit of summer
in my mouth.
So, in honor of the waning days of summer, this is what I made.
I drizzled olive oil and dropped 12-year-old Balsamic and shook
some coarse salt and freshly ground pepper over it all.
Recently, I added another bacon/greens combo concoction to my
growing list of greens recipes.
One quick note before I get to the recipe, I should put in a
quick note about identifying the greens. If you are one of those
people who didn’t get the benefit of asking or forgot to ask the
farmer what on earth all that green stuff was you had in your bag,
a couple websites offers some help identifying greens. About.com
has a decent list of greens with pictures and tips for uses. I’m
looking for others, but that seems to be the most complete. PCC
Natural Markets also has a
basic primer on greens.
Also, while I was out in Internet land, I found a few other
greens recipes and added them to my Food
And now to the recipe, or rather “recipe” because it’s an
approximate of proportions I used to make the dish on the fly:
I’ve been taking to heart some meal-planning and time-saver
suggestions given by
readers. There were some great tips, some of which I’ll
elaborate on in the future.
One of the things that helps when faced with a late night and
the need for a quick meal is having a well-stocked kitchen. I read
through simple food guru Mark
Bittman’s suggestions for core supplies.
Among the suggestions (and one I was a fan of anyways) is a bag
of frozen shrimp. It’s really a versatile little critter than can
be cooked quickly in a million different ways.
In the past couple years, I’ve seen several variations of
recipes including shrimp and my favorite tiny pasta, orzo. A couple
weeks ago, I threw together my variation based on what I had in the
house. I made double what I noted below because if you
really want to save time, you eat leftovers. Let me know
if you try this out and if you make or should make any variations:
Continue reading →
With all the fresh veggies about to come out in the farmers
markets, salads are going to be making more appearances
with dinner (and lunch).
I couldn’t quite wait, though, and utilized some frozen veggies
to dress up a salad this weekend.
I ate this before I managed to take a photo, but with the green
and orange and touches of red from the onion and the lettuce, it
was pretty. Well, since you can’t see it, it was downright
gorgeous, I mean you’ve never SEEN a prettier salad. Really. I
The recipe below reflects how I served it up. The next day
I ate the leftovers for lunch, and it was even better after the
bean mix had marinated for a night and I added some chopped
The salad 1 1/2 cups shelled edamame*
2 cups haricots verts (small green beans)
1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1-2 oranges, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Mixed salad greens
*If you’re using frozen edamame and/or green beans, make sure not
to fully cook them (only leave them in the boiling water a few
minutes) and rinse them with cold water so they stay cool and
crunchy for the salad.
Toss together beans, onion and orange. Leave out the greens
until you’re ready to serve.
Whisk together all dressing ingredients. Pour half over bean mix
and marinate for an hour or overnight. Before serving, toss
remaining dressing with greens and beans mix.
I have a little pile of handwritten or memorized recipes in my
daily dinner arsenal that I call my “go-to” meals. They’re things I
can make that don’t take a huge amount of preparation, but that I
wouldn’t be ashamed to serve to guests.
The list grows as I learn to cook better and find new
With the sun shining today, I’ll likely go to one of my
favorites that works well for either a grill or a broiler:
This is really no recipe at all, just a throw-together kind of
thing. I make use of the now gigantic rosemary bushes in my
backyard and a pretty forgiving fish. Plus it’s a really easy
after-work kind of way to
break out the grill.
The prep takes about all of 10 minutes. Here’s what you need
(base the amount of everything else on the size of your salmon
sweet onion (like Walla Walla or similar variety)
lemon, thin sliced
fresh rosemary sprigs
salt & pepper
Rub salt and pepper on the salmon, layer lemon, onion and
rosemary sprigs on the fillet and close over with foil. Broil or
grill until firm in the center and fish flakes (about 10-15 min.
under the broiler, depending on the thickness of your fillet).
I play around with it, and have added garlic salt and a touch of
cayenne to the rub. The foil helps seal in the moisture, and I
don’t always layer the ingredients in the same order. I think
having the onions closer to the fish gives them a better
I’m a late convert to oatmeal. Chalk it up to my aging, no wait,
maturing, taste buds.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t stand the stuff. My mom tried to
compromise, still trying to get me to eat a hot breakfast, by
buying chocolate-flavored Malt-O-Meal. After a bit of begging and
complaining that that stuff didn’t taste very good either, she’d
allow me to put in 1 Hershey Kiss. I always sneaked two or three
and sunk them into the bottom. It was far more like dessert that
In some ways, that’s still how I eat my hot cereal — as a
dessert — though a little less heavy on the sugary goodness.
In the past couple years, I’ve been playing around with how I
eat it, only occasionally plain. A couple times, I’ve tried
overnight versions in the crockpot, like one from
Alton Brown with figs, cranberries and steel cut oats
(steel cut has more
fiber, just had to throw that in there), but haven’t had
a lot of success. It comes out kind of gloppy and/or burned on the
bottom. I think the problem primarly is with my crockpot, less with
the recipes I’m trying.
I generally cook it with half water/half milk. I’m also a fan of
cooking it with water and adding a tablespoon of cream.
I also have a few go-to variations for dressing it up (both are
for two servings):
high-fiber recipe that was pretty simple to make. I made
it while my
cassoulet was baking this weekend and froze some for
giving away and for later in the week.
I’ve copied their recipe below, but I made my own additions
while it cooked because the original recipe seemed a little tart
and lacked some depth. I added about two tablespoons of brown sugar
and a heaping tablespoon of cocoa to the mix. I also simmered it
about 10 minutes longer than recipe called for.
Serving size is about two cups, and each serving has about 16
grams of fiber. It’s only supposed to have 294 calories (and it’s
pretty filling for having that much), but if you add the sugar like
I did, that’ll obviously add up.
After bringing home goodies
from the market (mussels, pears, truffle oil and a few
other things), I was pretty eager to cook them up, but after
spending the day in Seattle, not too keen on an hour in the
So I took another note from that Mark Bittman article I’d recently
read and made a quick mussel dish, though I forgot to
grab a bunch of basil (which I’m kicking myself for because it was
only $1.99 for a big handful).
Here’s how Bittman suggests making them:
“Put three pounds of washed mussels in a pot with half a cup of
white wine, garlic cloves, basil leaves and chopped tomatoes. Steam
until mussels open. Serve with bread.”
I made due sans basil by tossing in some chopped parsley and
cooking it for a couple minutes with the mussels.
Instead of bread, I opted to go on carb overload and cook up
some Linguine, tossed with the mussel and wine juices, a few
tabelspoons of olive oil, and a tablespoon of that white truffle
cream I also bought at Pike’s Place market and a little salt and
It was pretty good, though I still wish I had gotten the basil
to give it a little more depth. Next time.
It’s especially not true when I still find myself at work at 8
p.m. and really, really don’t want to hit the local fast food
So here’s a quick meal I made last night, which I don’t think is
too horribly unhealthy and is way better than a similar dish I used
to make when I was in college (I used to douse spaghetti noodles in
butter with parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, which doesn’t provide
much nutrition, but tasted way better than Top Ramen).
The longest part of the whole process was boiling the noodles.
It’s not fancy, but it’s filling and makes for an easy meal.