April 29, 2011

a garden recipe

It's been a busy week in the garden, and we've added a second raised bed to the backyard. Since we're novice gardeners, we found we'd planted a little too closely and had to do some re-spacing. In the past month the fast-growing zucchini and straight-neck squash began to tower over the strawberries and carrots and block their sun, also slightly crowding the bell peppers. Since we have limited porch space to put containers, building another planter was the best option. This time, although my husband built the wood planter, I mixed and added the soil, using the recipe suggested by our local feed and hardware store for an optimum soil mix. I ended up moving essentially every other row of vegetables from the first raised planter to the second raised planter, transplanting the strawberries, cantaloupe, hot peppers, bell pepper and carrots. With a little extra space left in the second planter, I added a mesclun lettuce mix and some arugula.

April 22, 2011

sweet potato & parsnip gnocchi with sage lemon butter sauce

I've been watching my mailbox with anticipation lately, waiting for my first issue of Food&Wine® magazine to arrive. I bought a year subscription a couple of months ago from the neighborhood kids who were selling magazines to raise money for their school. Whenever I go grocery shopping or am at the bookstore, I see F&W's tantalizing covers and want to grab an issue to take home. I know, though, as soon as I buy a copy, that same day my first issue will arrive in the mail. In the meantime, about a month ago I received a Favorite Italian Recipes booklet which included a delicious-looking carrot-potato gnocchi by F&W's senior recipe developer Grace Parisi.

April 15, 2011

whole wheat, oat, and flax seed bread

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a hand grain mill. I wanted to mill my own flour and be able to eat the grain in its freshest-tasting form, full of fiber, proteins and vitamins that are naturally present in the grain. It's true, milling flour from grain is a little more work. In fact, as I've experienced this past couple of weeks, using a hand-operated grain mill instead of an electric grain mill is way more work. Luckily, the hand mill can be motorized with a pulley, which gives me the benefit of having a mill that works with or without electricity. If you want to mill your own flour, I'd highly recommend getting an electric mill or a hand mill that can be motorized.

April 8, 2011

whole wheat tortillas

The flour tortilla is a perfect example of simple things that work well together. Its ingredients are flour, fat, salt, and water, and sometimes baking powder. By changing the type of flour or fat, varying the thickness of the tortilla, or adjusting the amount of fat or salt, you can make almost endless variations. When these simple ingredients are combined, the whole becomes so much more than its parts.

My goal was to make a completely whole grain tortilla. I searched my cookbooks and the internet, and ended up adapting suggestions for ingredients and techniques from three different sources: Huntley Dent's Feast of Santa Fe, allrecipes.com, and Jim Peyton's Lo Mexicano website. I tried white whole wheat, regular whole wheat, and whole wheat pastry flour. I varied the fats using olive oil, butter, and non-hydrogenated shortening. I experimented with adjusting the amount of fat I used, melting the solid fat or not melting it before adding it, and making the tortillas by hand or using a food processor. Any of the combinations, except for whole wheat pastry flour, made a really good tortilla. Some recipes add baking powder, but I liked the tortillas better without it. If you want to experiment with adding baking powder, which will give you a little thicker tortilla, the typical ratio is 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour.

April 1, 2011

spanish omelette with zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan & goat cheese

It's been nearly two weeks since I planted four cantaloupe seeds. Each seed was placed in a little soil in a separate pod in an egg carton, and the carton placed on the sunny windowsill of the large kitchen window seat. This past Sunday two of the seeds, now sprouts, poked their bent over necks up out of the soil, and on Monday they raised their heads from the dirt. By Tuesday, the third sprout appeared, and on Wednesday the fourth sprout peeked out of the soil.

In the meantime, I assembled more makeshift egg carton planters, borrowed a little more soil from the outside garden, and planted the rest of the vegetables we're starting from seed in their own pods. Outside in the raised garden planter, during a surprise appearance of cold, misty weather, we planted small starter plants of hot peppers, cucumbers, and squash beside the herbs we'd planted the weekend before. In two large separate containers, we planted heirloom tomatoes.