Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

green drinks

And we aren't even to FL yet...
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

golden eyes

Roshi-sitting while E is away.
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Recipe Rursday: Goat Cheese Empanadas


Goat Cheese Empanadas

Using a 3-in round cookie cutter, cut out 16 circles from 2 refrigerated rolled piecrusts. Divide 4 oz. of fresh goat cheese among the circles, dot the edges of the dough with water, fold in half, and press with a fork to seal.

Bake at 375F until golden, 20-25 minutes. Serve with corn salsa.

(I made these with my mom when she was in town for Thanksgiving -- crafty, and easy, if you buy the piecrusts.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Recipe Rursday: Homemade Hot Sauce

We go through a lot of hot sauce in our house. On oven nachos, fish tacos, huevos rancheros, and even rice and beans. And with the number of hot peppers growing in the deck garden, and that came in our CSA farm share, it was only a matter of time before we started making our own hot sauce. We had a number of hot peppers go to waste this year and we will not make that mistake again. The hot chilii-infused oil (recipe here) was a great way to use up peppers, and the oil will last for quite a while. But hot sauce doesn't require that you dry out the chilis, and the process was much simpler.
Garlicky Red Chili Hot Sauce (from The New York Times)
  • 4 hot red or orange chili peppers, such as habañero
  • 2 red bell peppers ( 3/4 pound), roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.

1. Wearing rubber or latex gloves, roughly chop the chilies. Combine all ingredients in a small pot over medium-high heat. Once mixture is simmering, reduce heat to low, cover and continue to simmer until peppers are tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Do not inhale vapors; they will sting.

2. Transfer mixture to a blender and purée. Pour into a medium jar and allow to cool uncovered. Cover tightly and refrigerate for three days. Keep stored in refrigerator; sauce will last for several weeks or months. Yield: 2 cups.


Notes: This was Chris' project (whew), and he bottled our batch in the cleaned-out distilled vinegar bottle because of its screw-on cap. The sauce is bright orange and a little thick/chunky. Only thing I'd change for the next batch is to turn up the heat. It's hot sauce damn it! If it's really really hot, you can hold back and only use a little bit. Since our first batch was on the more mild side, we're almost through the bottle.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Best band name ever

Chris: "what's the name of that group...Jesus and the Rocketships?"

Amy: "You mean Florence and the Machine?"
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thanksgiving Visit

Our Thanksgiving weekend involved a lot of cooking -- spinach lasagna (with homemade pasta sauce), pumpkin bread stuffing, goat cheese empanadas (above), spicy cauliflower hash, festive quinoa salad, baked haddock, and mom made her broccoli cheese & rice dish. Since my parents arrived late on Thursday, we had dinner out on the town, and our own Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. Note to self: Almost nothing is open on Thanksgiving in Providence!
We made paper, 3-D ornaments (above), watched John Grisham movies, and spent Saturday with my aunt Sandy, my two cousins, and their kids. On Sunday, we took an early trip to the tree farm, and spent the afternoon decorating the tree. A full, and really great, weekend.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Recipe Rursday: Pumpkin Bread Stuffing

Three years ago, I posted that I wanted to make Pumpkin Bread Stuffing (from a recipe on VegetarianFood We hosted Thanksgiving this year for my parents (and brought food to my aunt's), so I gave it a try...though a few years late.

I didn't have time to make the bread, and picked up this amazing loaf of "Pumpkin Seed Bread" at our local bakery, Seven Stars. The best ingredient in this recipe ended up being the seeds, which became more pronounced as the bread broke down from stirring/pulsing in the food processor. If your bread doesn't have them, it couldn't hurt to add them separately.
My changes: I used butter (and much less), dried herbs (1 Tbsp fresh = 1 tsp. dried), and could have used more broth. I prefer stuffing to be very moist (I was raised on Stove Top) and will add more broth next time. I also put the mixture in the food processor after baking, and I'm convinced that with more broth, the processor would get me the texture I wanted. Regardless, a great success.

Pumpkin Bread Stuffing
  • 1 cup vegan margarine, plus 1 teaspoon (1/2 cup of butter)
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (or 2 tsp. dried)
  • 2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped (or 2 tsp. dried)
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped (or 2 tsp. dried)
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 6 cups pumpkin bread, cubed
  • approx 1/3 cup vegetable broth (1/2 cup or more)
Allow pumpkin bread to dry overnight, or toast in oven at 250 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and grease a large baking dish with butter. In a large skillet/pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the celery and onions and sautee for 8-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes until mushrooms are soft.

Turn off heat and add spices, stirring well to combine. Add bread cubes. Add vegetable broth a few tablespoons at a time just until stuffing is moistened.

Transfer mixture to greased baking dish and cover with foil. Bake in oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes, or until done.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The tree

It was so good to spend the holiday with my parents and to share our annual tree procurement! While we always have a real tree for Christmas, we hadn't chopped one down since 2007. Henry's Tree Farm in Scituate was good to us again. And as always, the tree is 90% covered in paper/plastic/foam ornaments, made by friends and family. Each year the ornaments are different (see the history, here) and each year the unpacking of ornaments reminds me of the good friends we have (who affectionately allow me to force crafts on them). My parents added fancy paper ornaments this year (blinged up by mom). More pics soon.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On Barbados

A few things I learned about visiting Barbados:

1. You might see a monkey running free, or a humming bird, lizards, bull frogs, baseball-sized crabs on the beach, or a mongoose--though we never saw the latter.
2. Instant coffee really is an abomination. Next time, pack good coffee.
3. A huge fillet of fresh, grilled swordfish, in a tiny place on the side of the road...$7 (USD), as opposed to Whole Food's $7/lb.
4. Rum in Barbados is 43% alcohol, and watered down to 40% when sold in the US.
5. Putting bitters in rum punch....Interesting.
6. Add an extra day of vacay to both adjust to the heat, and to mentally power down from work-mode.
7. Put smart phones in waterproof bags when going out, in case there is no shelter during the daily 15-minute downpour.
8. Make early arrangements for Chris' job to pay for another trip to Barbados (the one time when work like this pays, literally).
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Monday, November 29, 2010


11/20/10.Chris' work trip, converted into a mini-vacation. Such a gift.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Planting Garlic for Next June

Last week, I put the garden to bed and this weekend helped my friend Elizabeth do the same. For mine, I only had to pull out the bigger plants. I bunched up the empty containers a corner on the deck and will cover them with a tarp for the winter, so the weight of the snow doesn't compact the soil. For Elizabeth's plot at her community garden (see below), we pulled up anything that wasn't green, bagged it, and covered the bed with leaves.
But, before both gardens were put to bed, we planted garlic...the final experiment for the 2010 garden. Garlic takes quite a while to grow. Planting cloves in early November means I'll hopefully have full heads of garlic to harvest in June or July of next year. I saved the largest cloves from our last head of csa garlic and dried them out in a paper bag, for at least two months. I had been advised to plant at the end of October. We shall see.
Planting garlic, an Urban Chicken workshop at SCLT, and a trip to the batting cages. All outdoors this weekend, and such a great end to the growing season.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recipe Rursday: Sweet Potato Fries

Deli Haus, a retro diner tucked underground in Boston's Fenway Square, introduced me to sweet potato fries. I remember it vividly. I had just moved to Boston and was about to turn 22. Back when Fenway Square had character, before it was devoured by Boston University-owned swanky hotels, the retro square had an old record store, a great coffee shop, and among other things, a downstairs restaurant/diner called Deli Haus. The diner had great food, an excess of coolness, walls saturated with smoke, and beer served until 1 or 2 am. If you were liked, you could stay past 3. Brilliant. And I can't seem to stay up past 10:30 most nights.
The cider reduction makes this more of a fancy pants dish, but a well-salted, simpler version is just as good. From our CSA last month comes another fittingly Fall meal. Inspired by some recipe somewhere, which I can no longer find...and my memory of Deli Haus.

Sweet Potato Fries with a Cider Reduction
(and a side of grilled white asparagus)

Add a cup or two of cider to a saucepan and set on a low boil for almost an hour, until reduced (by more than 3/4) to a thick glaze.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop sweet potatoes long-wise (I used 2 potatoes) into wedges and brush with olive oil and salt (not too much of either). Bake on a sheet for 45 minutes to an hour, until soft and browned. I salt them right out of the oven as well. Top with the cider reduction.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


1. First snow yesterday. It creates such a mood. Song share: Flakes by Mystery Jets.

2.Snow last winter:
3. Love this photo:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Late Halloween Photos

A few pumpkin pics from the Pumpkin Spooktacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo from 10/31/10 (phone

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Recipe Rursday: Green Bean Casserole in a skillet

For our 2nd year with a CSA (this year with Four Friends Farms), I am once again very happy; buying a farm share was healthy, socially responsible, sustainable, and it challenged us to try new recipes and learn more about fresh food. We will be CSA-ing as long as we can afford it. This recipe, for example, was inspired by the fact that we had two big bags of fresh green beans...'fresh' as in 'picked a few days ago.' Alton Brown promised the "best recipe," so we gave it a try. Of course, with a few tweaks.

Alton Brown's Best Ever Green Bean Casserole: My notes: The green beans need to be cooked a minute or two longer and we used milk instead of cream, which means that it needed to be cooked down a bit longer once in the cast iron skillet, as well. Also, if the green beans are salted (you'll know when tasting them before blanching), don't over salt the mushrooms or the final dish.

For the topping:
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray

For beans and sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth (veggie broth - also can be salty)
  • 1 cup half-and-half (or milk)

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. (beware of blackening) Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. (but taste them, they may need a minute or two longer, if they're large) Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. (If using milk reduce down longer)

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Heirloom Pumpkins

This year we picked up both a white pumpkin (below) up in Cumberland and a blue-gray pumpkin down in Westerly--both in Rhode Island. I love these more unusual squash and hopefully I'll be able to dry out a few seeds and grow them next year (especially if we have a giant backyard).
The gray pumpkin feels like marble -- the white one was more like a regular pumpkin. And since I wanted it to last, I couldn't carve it up. Thus the Martha Stewart blast of glitter: