Saturday, August 29, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Green Zebras

Green Striped Zebra Tomatoes, taken 7/27/09.

You may be familiar with heirloom tomatoes, and I had heard them before this summer, but only now do I realize the variety and subtle differences in taste among heirlooms. These are my most anticipated Green Striped Zebra tomatoes (most anticipated, by me, that is). But for green tomatoes, what are the rules of ripening and picking? If green tomatoes never turn red, how do you know? Ours shifted from green and white, to green and yellow, so I took this as a sign that they were ready to go. One fell off the vine, as well. I took that to be a sign that we were leaving them up too long.

As for taste, the Green Striped Zebras have more citricy overtones and tasted almost like a tomato crossed with a lemon or lime. I peeled our last batch very easily (no need for blanching) (below) for a no-cook tomato sauce (from Real Simple). I used German Red Strawberries, (orange) sungellas, and Green Striped Zebras--all from the garden. There may be a few red tomatoes in there, from the CSA, as well. In the end, I have to say that I didn't love the sauce and it had an un-appetizing pink color, but on hot days, it's one less burner to light.

Taken 8/24/09.

Friday, August 28, 2009

CSA Recipe: Farm Veggie Sautee & White Fish (5 of 5)

I am missing the grill. A friend confessed to me yesterday that she was ready for summer to be over already and I think I'm ready as well. Isn't the Fall a perfect grilling season? We don't spend much time on the deck in this heat and humidity.

Earlier this summer, we were grilling a few nights a week. Above is a white fish (here, it was Cod), grilled on the back deck and served it with a side of veggies from our CSA. Nothing too exciting, but any successful use of chard, for us, is a major triumph.

Veggie Saute: Saute white onion and garlic until soft, add the greens (swiss chard, stalks removed) and chopped squash, and when soft, add the chopped tomato (for the last few minutes). + salt & pepper.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

CSA Recipe Week (4 of 5): Chickpea Stew

I'm using this CSA Recipe Week to post all the recipes that I skipped over these last few months, from laziness or because my new job involves so much work on the computer (all day!) that I can't bare to look at the blog on a week-day evening. Not complaining, just explaining.

Back in July, we made this Chickpea Stew, partially to use up the remaining garlic scapes from our CSA. It's amazing to think that I had never even seen a garlic scape or eaten a beet prior to this summer. I had to look them up to see what people do with them. Turns out I love them both. Chris & I love chickpeas, so this was an easy stew to throw together.

Chickpea Stew: Sautee garlic (or garlic scapes), onions, & mushrooms, add canned (whole) tomatoes, chickpeas, and salt & pepper. Simmer for a 1/2 hour or longer, and serve.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tent City

New ...Providence tent cities media links.


My uncle passed away today and I'll be out of town through the weekend. The blog will be on auto-pilot with pre-scheduled posts for a while.

CSA Recipe Week (3 of 5): Pesto Veggie Pizza

We were overflowing with tomatoes this week - from our CSA and from the garden on the deck. And since I've insisted that we stop buying wheat dough for our pizzas (because we can't get them to crisp up as well as the white flour dough), our pizzas keep getting better and better. This one may not have topped the Zucchini, Basil & Goat Cheese pizza miracle, but it was incredibly tasty and fresh.

Pesto Veggie Pizza: Pesto base (pesto recipe from Joy of Cooking, in a past post), topped with garlic & shallots from the CSA, sungella tomatoes from the garden & red heirlooms from the CSA, shredded cheese (Italian mix), and fresh CSA basil. Talk about a fresh garden veggie pizza.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another Day older and Deeper in Debt

Link-share: Just started watching Deadwood on Netflix...and for the moment, I am much appreciat'n the great moustache. But as is the case that I be agin', today I'm sharin' a version of Sixteen Tons, by Johnny Cash (mustache in tow).
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store.

CSA: Week 11

CSA Week 11, taken 8/24/09.
Potatoes, zucchini, squash, a bag of greens & chard, tomatoes, a pepper, raspberries, and a basil tree...oh my! Scratch Farm has been very very good to us this week.

CSA Recipe Week (2 of 5): Beans & Veggies with Quinoa

We've started to buy quinoa (what is Quinoa?) at our local Whole Foods because, if you can believe it, buying quinoa at Whole Foods (in the bulk containers) saves money. Boxes of quinoa in the regular grocery store tend to cost much more.

This dish was something that Chris threw together late in the week.
Beans & Veggies with Quinoa: Prepare the quinoa based on your box instructions, or use online guidelines for cooking time. Chris prepared his black beans + sofrito (a homemade family recipe) and added sauteed mushrooms, chard from the CSA (chopped, with stems removed), and chopped roasted red peppers. The results, a hearty, but not too heavy, feast.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Springsteen Set List

Springsteen doesn't have an opening band. Why? Because Bruce knows his fans, many of whom are hard-working people who have to save up to buy these ridiculously priced concert tickets. And if people have to fork over a lot of money to see him in concert, he's gonna give them their money's worth--a 3 hour non-stop rock & roll revival (at its best), with no need for a warm-up band.

A few highlights of last night's concert: Outlaw Pete, off the new album, was haunting and memorable. No Atlantic City, despite my wishes, and Chris wanted to hear Thunder Road, but how could I complain. The show was great.

But my favorite surprise of the night was to hear the first Springsteen song that sticks in my memory as a kid. I was 10 years old when it was released and I remember playing it over and over (on a cassette tape) in our big brown & taupe striped van. The album was We are the World. Don't laugh, it was awesome. And you probably loved it too. My favorite song on that album was Trapped and I heard it live last night like it was the first time, all over again.

8/22/09 Set List:
1. Jackson Cage (w/Max) - (from The River)
2. She's The One - (from Born to Run)
3. Working On The Highway
4. Hungry Heart
5. Outlaw Pete (from the new album)
6. Badlands
7. Working On A Dream (from the new album)
8. Seeds
9. Johnny 99
10. Point Blank - (in an almost Samba-style...odd)
[Collecting song suggestion signs from the audience]
11. Raise Your Hand
12. Burning Love
13. For You (another surprise - this song tears me up)
14, Trapped (awesome).
15. Waitin' On A Sunny Day
16. The Promised Land
17. If I Should Fall Behind (A request from Don, from the audience, who says it's his
124th show) - (beautiful)
18. Backstreets
19. Lonesome Day
20. The Rising
21. Born To Run
22. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
23. Detroit Medley (w/Jay) - (a lot of fun, but I would've loved for him to have kept Thunder Road here, like the previous night's setlist)
24. Hard Times (an old spiritual)
25. American Land
26. Dancing In The Dark
27. Born In The USA
28. Twist & Shout (shake 'em if you got 'em)

CSA Recipe Week (1 of 5): Zucchini & Onion Bread

Our CSA share has included 2 or 3 squash or zucchini in past weeks, and I have been wanting to make bread since our friend Bill mentioned his bread-making obsession. I don't bake very often, because I'm not good with the precision it can require, but this bread was easy.
The recipe came from The Market Fresh Cookbook--a Reader's Digest book (on sale at BJs), that categorizes the recipes by summer/market vegetable. Excellent for CSA veggies. The staff at Street Sights seemed to enjoy the loaf (below), though I agree with our staff foodie that in the end, it wasn't terribly flavorful. Next time: I'll use more salt, since it's a savory bread.
Onion Zucchini Bread
  • 3 C flour
  • 3/4 C chopped onion
  • 1/2 C grated Parm (6 T set aside)
  • 5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 C buttermilk (I used 3/4 C of 2% milk)
  • 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 C finely shredded zucchini
Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the first 6 ingredients (but only 6T of parm. cheese) in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the last 4. Stir the latter into the former, until just blended.

Spoon batter into a greased baking pan & cover with remaining parm. Bake for 40 min, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let rest on rack for 10 min, be fore removing.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fun Things

First, a link-share: the trailer for the next season of Smallville has slipped out....simple pleasures.

And....Chris surprised me with tickets to see Bruce Springsteen tonight (for my b-day next week). CRAZY! We haven't seen Springsteen in years and he puts on such a rockin' show...I can't wait. Bruuuuuuuuuuuuucccccceeee. (photo cred)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Purslane

One of my co-workers at Street Sights, who has guided me through the my-first-garden process, gave me a sprig of Purslane to plant in the garden. Purs-what? And by sprig, I mean a very small 2 branch sprig, roots still attached. He said it's edible and that it is sometimes eaten in salads as an herb. I stuck it in the empty spinach bed and apparently, this little trooper can do quite well despite hectic transfers and crazy heat.The purslane is definitely doing its thing. Word on the street is that it may even flower. And while I wasn't interested in having any flowers in the garden (me being practical in my overly-practial ways), a little color would be a nice surprise from this weed-like looking oddity. Very cool.

Monday, August 17, 2009

CSA: Week 10

This week's CSA (the cabbage was from last week's share): tomatoes, leeks, salad mix (with arugula), eggplant, and basil. We somehow missed the cukes and zucchini, but instead, picked up a head of radiccio! Gorgeous veggies.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Garden on the Deck: German Red Strawberry Tomatoes

The largest of our German Red Strawberry tomatoes, 8/12/09.

You wouldn't believe how dense the German reds are. I would have never thought that deck tomatoes could taste so good. The giganto one (above), we ate with friends on Thursday night - with fresh mozzarella and basil from the deck.
Tomato Harvest #2, taken 8/12/09.
The others, along with tomatoes from our CSA went into a tomato roast with fresh fish--following a recipe for Halibut with Spicy Squash and Tomatoes from Real Simple. Lovely.
Ingredients for the Halibut/squash/tomato roast.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Jalapeno Pepper

Taken 8/9/09.

Recipe Rusday: Carrot & Beet Latkes (CSA Recipe)

Note to self: never take photos of beets latkes on a yellow plate. For me, these easy latkes are a new spin on beets, though I guess anything is a new spin on beets, since I ate my first beet this summer. Like many of the recipes I've used for the veggies in our CSA share, this one is straight from Eggs on Sunday. These are hearty, but very sweet, if you don't use enough salt or onion. I added lots of extra salt, so they'd resemble hashbrowns.

Beet & Carrot Latkes (From Edible Finger Lakes Magazine, Winter 2008)

  • 2 medium beets, coarsely grated
  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • coarse salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream or creme fraiche, plus chopped chives, for serving

Combine the grated vegetables in a bowl. Add the beaten eggs, stir to combine, then stir in the flour and salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, scoop 1/3 cup of the latke mixture into the skillet, and flatten to 1/4 inch thick. Scoop 3 more latkes into the skillet. Cook the 4 latkes until golden brown, about 4-6 minutes per side. (You can warm the first batch in the oven as you the 2nd batch, or not).

Add another 1 1/2 T oil to the skillet and cook the remaining latkes. When all the latkes are done, serve them warm with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chives. (Makes 8.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Tomato Harvest #1

Basil oil (home made), green onions from the CSA, and tomatoes from our garden on the deck. Oh my. Below are photos of our first tomato harvest. We need to pick the others soon....
The two red tomatoes are German Red Strawberries and the orange ones are Anne's Sungellas.
Back Deck Tomato Harvest #1, taken 8/9/09.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Beaver Tail Coves

Our friend Elizabeth took us down to Beaver Tail state park on Jamestown Island this past Saturday. As long as you're willing to climb, within the rocks, you can find amazing, isolated coves and beaches, tucked along the the south-most coastline. We lucked out with amazing weather and only stumbled onto one nude beach.In general, I'm not a fan of beaches. This is due to the fact that I'm not that interested in sun tanning or skin cancer or getting wrinkles before they appear naturally. I'm also not a fan of big groups of people and screaming kids. Since beaches often include a combination of the above, I'd usually rather be somewhere else. But, when beaches are not full of trucked-in sand and are somewhat remote, then, the locale can be an enjoyable place to relax. The next two pictures below are of the beach where we camped out and went swimming.I left this beach wanting to go back. Soon. The beach had everything I could possibly want--most importantly, peace, quiet, clear water, and a gorgeous coastline. Before heading home, and near the end of the day, we found a beach in a 2nd, nearby state park. No climbing required, and a perfect place to take our parents, the next time they come visit.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Recipe Archives on Red Pepper Flakes

Below are the recipe posts for every recipe on Red Pepper Flakes. Basically, they're listed from newest to oldest within each category. Enjoy!

Appetizers and Dips
Salads and Slaws
Soups and Stews
Hearty Main DishesPizzas
Veggies & Veggie Sides
Desserts, Drinks, & Breads

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Providence Tent Cities in Court (& the bullshit claim that the system works)

Providence's tent cities spent yesterday in court. Channel 10 has an update on the recent efforts to evict the residents.

In this video, you'll hear the claim that "the system that's in place works." But I absolutely believe that the system in place does NOT work. By "the system" I mean the current shelter system, the government's limited involvement in subsidized housing, and the ubiquity of services that patronize rather than treat homeless individuals like human beings.

The problem of homelessness is not that people aren't willing to take part in a successful system. This explanation conveniently blames the 6,500+ homeless individuals in Rhode Island, as if this population's suffering is their own fault and they're merely failing to take advantage of the plentiful resources available to them. This explanation gives government officials the sense that they've 'done all that they can.'

This explanation avoids any discussion of the lack of affordable housing in Rhode Island. if homelessness and the absence of housing aren't connected!

What if we stopped accepting the claim that "the system in place works"?
More media on tent city's relocation:
For regular updates on media about tent city -- go here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Street Sights Wins Awards

Street Sights, Rhode Island's street paper published by and for the homeless community and their allies, has received a national award at NASNA's (the North American Street Newspaper Association) conference last month, in Colorado.  

I volunteer at Street Sights as their grant writer and have witnessed drastic changes in the organization this year.  A new, recurring 'Speak Out' session has formed and we're running our first annual Journalism Training Program for staff and community members, at the end of this month. 

But, for a shocking visual of how far Street Sights has come since its early days, I'd encourage you to take a look at the images of the first issue our first issue (a newsletter) compared to a recent issue (12-pages of color newsprint!) recently posted on the NASNA blog. The difference between the two publications is astounding. The text is from our application and describes some of the changes that have taken place over the years at Street Sights. Congratulations to the staff!

The most recent, August issue of Street Sights is available for download as a pdf, on the Archives Page.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Garden on the Deck: IT'S SO ALIVE!!!

German Red Strawberry Tomatoes, 8/4/09.
I'm gone for what...4 days. And what happens? All hell breaks loose on the deck. The giant tomatoes turn red, the sungellas turn orange, the first jalapeno appeared, and the basil completely replenished itself. It's crazy I tell ya. Just crazy.
The first Sungella, 8/4/09.
Sungellas, 8/4/09.
Immortal Basil.
Re-appearing Peonies, 8/4/09. I thought they were dead, again!
Our first pepper. A jalapeno, 8/4/09.
(Later we realized this must be a sweet pepper)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

CSA: Week 8

Luckily, a dear friend (thank you E!) grabbed our CSA share for us this week, since we were in Chi-town. New things!! Carrots! Onions (or leeks - these, on the left, may be a cross between the two), new garlic, zucchini, swiss/rainbow chard, potatoes, and a giant bunch of basil.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More Chi-town Joy

Anne & Ashley, 8/1/09.

Two more photos from this past weekend in Chi-town. Did I mention the whole damn thing was great? And I don't even like weddings! Anne & Ashley threw a true party. And I'm proud to call them friends (and to take credit for their entire relationship - ha!).

Chi-town Bells


Just got back from a long weekend in Chi-town for my bff's wedding. Great weekend...catching up with both friends and family. More to come.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Friendly Faces

Dragonfly-like insect, taken 7/25/09.

Ladybug (a very loved aphid-eating friend), taken 7/25/09.

Cat, taken 7/25/09.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

CSA: Week 7

This week has been so crazy...Another hefty CSA Farm Share from Scratch Farms: Chard, Squash, Onions, Beets, Cabbage, Lemon Basil (I think), and salad greens (yea!). This week, the Pac Choi went straight into the food processor for a Bok Choy/Pac Choi Pesto. Does that sound odd? My boss recommended any and all greens with a bite (or fully bitter) greens be made into a pesto. I found a Bok Choy pesto recipe and used toasted almonds for their buttery flavor. Very nice.