Archive | August, 2012

An I Love Lucy Moment

16 Aug

Right here:

Yep, the bottom gave out on one of the 10-pound flat of blueberries we picked last week, leaving what could have been Sig’s dream come true.  After the spillage, in one quick motion, Rob scooped up the blueberry-loving pup in one arm (who was more then well-aware of what just happened, and quickly thought he could possibly “help”), grabbed the kitchen camera with the other, all the while giggling like a little school girl waking up Christmas morning.  Luckily, I was wearing black shorts.

There were berries under the couch, under the TV stand, not to mention on us.  Our hands and nails were stained a dark purple half-way through the clean-up, until Rob got the, dare I say brilliant, idea to use pancake spatulas to scoop up the massive amount of rogue fruit.  It worked, although, I’m sure it was quite a sight: two grown adults on hands and knees, butts in the air, scooping up everywhere-blueberries with black spatulas, doggie outside whining at having been demoted to a spectator behind the screen door.  We were able to clean up the blueberries without squishing too many (although the Lucy and Ethel grape-stomping scene was vividly on repeat in my head).  And those that did not survive the fall, or the feet, Sig happily partook.

While I do not recommend eating many fruits off the floor, I figure if you boil something long enough, all the germs are bound to die, right?  Luckily, I still had some frozen blueberries that needed a “preserved” home, so I quickly got to canning my blueberry sauce, making room in the freezer for the new batch of living-room-floor-berries.

The blueberry sauce can pair with everything.  Seriously.  It is the seen-on-tv-type sauce when it comes to versatility.  Because it is not sweet, just perfectly blueberry-y, oatmeal, ice cream, chicken, steak, and mixed into a vinaigrette have all been viable (and delicious) options.  But my new favorite was this morning’s meal: Rosemary Chia Banana Bread paired with the Blueberry Sauce.  Simple, summery, light, healthy, and delicious.  Chia seeds are similar to flax seeds, and are a huge staple in the supplemental health department.  The Rosemary combined with the banana gives the bread a very earthy taste.  It’s probably my new favorite breakfast bread.  Adding the rich, tangy, blueberry sauce make this morning a far cry from yesterday’s debacle (much to Sig’s dismay).  Nothing yet has spilled today, but, it’s still early – haven’t even begun preparing dinner!

Rosemary Chia Banana Bread (makes one loaf) 

  • 1 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/8 c chia seeds (flax seeds are a good substitute) 
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 8 oz plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 overripe (black) bananas that have been frozen, then thawed, then peeled (keep any liquid) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Lightly butter and flour a loaf pan, and set aside. 

Mix all the dry ingredients (including the rosemary), minus the sugar, in a large bowl, and set aside.  In a stand (or hand) mixer, cream the yogurt, vanilla extract, and sugar together until creamy.  In three separate batches, mix the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing until dry ingredients are just incorporated each time.  Add the thawed bananas and all the liquid from thawing the frozen overripe fruit.  This will add a ton of flavor, as well as create moist bread.  

Once the bananas are incorporated, pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the bread is golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  

Cool, and enjoy with blueberry sauce! 

Blueberry Sauce (makes 3 pints) 

  • 1 gallon frozen blueberries (equals about 16 cups) 
  • zest of one lemon 
  • juice from two lemons 
  • 3 tbsp confectioners sugar 
  • 3-finger pinch of salt

Pour all ingredients into a large pot, and heat over med-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble and starts to foam.  Spoon off the foamy top layer, and lower the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.  You will know the sauce is done when the bubbles become gloppy, and the mixture coats a spoon.  There will still be chunks of blueberries in the mixture, which gives the sauce a nice texture.  It should taste like true blueberries – not jammy, or overly sweet.  Just blue.    

Follow an approved canning/preserving method, or keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a few weeks.   

Enjoy!  

Flavors of Summer

8 Aug

We are back now from all our traveling, relaxed, and yes, a bit more tan.  Expecting to come back to the frigid Oregon Coast summertime winds, we have actually had quite a few days of beautiful sun, mild weather, and gentle breezes.  It has been more than pleasant, and Rob and I are taking advantages of the best of it.  The many hikes, lead to long days, sometimes not even showering until mid afternoon (it’s not gross, it’s “natural”).  We’ve been doing some small entertaining, enjoying close friends in intimate conversation over simply good food.

One of the things I will miss the most come our goodbye next summer, will be the amazing Oregon produce.  Wow, this place has got it down.  The berries are incredible, and our CSA farm basket (yielding not only great zucchini and greens, but inspired the cheeky name for this blog), has been overflowing our crisper.  It’s awesome.

Through the lazy days of summer (and I do mean lazy… Sig is snoring under the table at the moment), I have enjoyed cooking from my roots – simple, easy, tasty dishes celebrating the greatness of food.  We’ve kept some staples in the house: herbed chicken salad (above), blueberry sauce, white bean puree (a great companion for blanched green beans), good quality mayo (for the healthy shmear on a ripe summer tomato), pluots and blueberries for cold, sparkling sangria, and most recently vegetable cream cheese.  With the tons of veg we’ve been getting, combined with our undying and unconditional love of bagels and cream cheese, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this sooner.  Super simple, incredibly flavorful, and a fantastic way to get some raw veg into the system first thing in the morning.

Right now, I’m waiting for some overripe peaches (there are always a couple in a lug – why waste?) to do their infusing magic with some vodka, anticipating a ginger peach cordial sometime in the next couple of days.

With albacore swimming like crazy right now, one found it’s loin on my dinner plate, grilled with lime, brown sugar, smoked salt, and served with a simple lime balsamic dressing.

And with so many beautiful zucchinis around, a tart was just calling out to me (with a fried egg, oui chic!)

Today’s farmer’s market yielded beautiful blackberries, and the juices are already flowing (no pun) as to what to make next.  Suggestions are welcome. 🙂

Vegetable Cream Cheese (makes 8 oz) 

  • 8 oz room temperature cream cheese (I used the “whipped” kind; it made incorporating the ingredients very easy) 
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled 
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 small zucchini 
  • 2-3 scallions, white and light green parts only 
  • a handful of parsley 
  • s&p

This requires some patience chopping, but chop all the veg into a very small dice.  First, make thin slices, then slice again into matchsticks.  Then, line up the pieces, chopping them across to make very small pieces.  HERE’S A TRICK: with the carrot, use the vegetable peeler to make the thin slices, and then continue cutting from those “peeled” slices.  It’s much easier than trying to keep a I-want-to-be-free-and-roll-all-over-the-place carrot still.  

Chop the scallion into thin slices, and chop the parsley until fairly fine.  

Mix all the veg and herbs into the cream cheese, and season with s&p.  Depending on the brand of cream cheese you use, you may not need much salt.  

Generously spread on a freshly toasted bagel, lick the excess off your fingers, add more to the bagel once you realize how great it is, and enjoy! 

**The longer the cream cheese mixture sits, the more incorporated the vegetable flavors become.  The second, third, fourth days are the best – if it lasts that long.  

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