Posts tagged: traditional foodways

Stewed Figs

By , December 7, 2012

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If you find yourself with some fresh figs on hand, try stewing them. They’re a nice little treat.

Cut them into pieces, and cook in a saucepan with a bit of water. Add a good squeeze of fresh orange juice if you like, and maybe a quick dash of salt.

Simmer, covered, until the figs are tender and the water is nearly gone — about 15-20 minutes.

I tossed a sprig of fresh rosemary into this batch. It added a nice flavor but don't use too much or let it cook for too long or it will impart a bitterness.

Serve plain… or topped with pepitas… alongside yogurt… or on a salad.

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Breakfast Salad

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I love salads for breakfast!

I chop everything into small pieces, including the lettuce, and eat the whole salad with a spoon.

This particular breakfast salad contained:

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Romaine lettuce

Apple

Avocado

Onion

Dried Cranberries

Pepitas

Stewed Figs

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Apple Cider Vinegar

Freshly squeezed Orange Juice

Nama Shoyu Soy Sauce

Salt/Pepper

(and no oil, although you could certainly add some if you like)

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Absolutely delicious!!!

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Classic Pumpkin Pie

By , November 19, 2012

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With an eye toward Thanksgiving this week, here’s my own recipe for classic pumpkin pie, along with my own crust recipe.

Neither recipe is the most decadent you’ll find out there because heavy, fatty things don’t agree with me. So if you’re wanting to make a pumpkin pie that’s on the lighter side, try this one. I make it every Thanksgiving. The crust is not really rich and flaky, and probably won’t wow any chefs out there, but it is humble and it does the job. I like it.

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Lindsey’s Classic Pumpkin Pie

Rounded 2/3 cup of rapadura (or white or brown sugar)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp, heaping, of cinnamon

1/2 tsp, heaping, of powdered ginger

1 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup half-n-half (light cream)

1 15-oz can Libby’s pumpkin (or 2 cups cooked pumpkin or winter squash, pureed, and cooked down if too watery — the healthfood store brands of canned pumpkin are way too watery. I learned my lesson to use Libby’s!)

1 9-inch pie shell (recipe below)

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Preheat oven to 425°.

Mix sugar, salt, and spices in a small bowl.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then stir in pumpkin, sugar-spice mix, and the milk and half-n-half. Mix until thoroughly combined, but don’t get overzealous (like, don’t do what I did once and overbeat with egg beaters — it beats too much air in, and makes a souffle-type thing!)

Pour into unbaked pie shell.

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes, and then reduce temperature to 350° and bake 40-50 more minutes until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours.

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Lindsey’s Not-Too-Rich 9″ Pie Crust

2 cups flour (whole wheat, or white, or a combo)

1 Tbsp sugar

Scant 1/2 tsp salt

6 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces (salted or unsalted, either is fine)

Ice water (you’ll use about 3/4 cup)

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In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in cold butter.

I like to use my fingers to rub in the butter and blend until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Mix the ice water in, 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring lightly with a fork after each addition, until a dough is formed. (3/4 cup is about 12 Tbsp.) Try not to overwork the dough. Small bits of butter will be visible — this is what you want.

When a good, workable dough is formed — not too dry, not too sticky — wrap in cellophane and refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to roll out, lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.

Roll into a circle. Transferring to your pie plate is made easier by folding the dough in half and draping it over your rolling pin.

Trim off any excess dough, but leave enough extra around the edge to fold under and crimp with three fingers, as in the photo below.

If you do have a little extra dough, you could use a cookie cutter to cut out a little something-or-other (a maple leaf, for example) that you can bake and then place on top of your finished pie as decoration.

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Soup of the Day

By , July 13, 2012

This was a delicious little lunch for today. I pulled the beef broth out of the freezer, and the rest is from my own garden! With everything cut into little pieces, it cooked up in just a few minutes.

beef broth

scallions (white part)

celery

kale

potatoes

…and at the table, I stirred in some raw homemade sauerkraut with some of its juice, which leant a wonderful brightness to the soup!

And I just remembered I have some soaked & cooked lentils, which I think would also go well in this soup.

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Nettles!!

By , May 1, 2012

As I mentioned in this post, I found nettles! This was really very exciting because now I can collect my own instead of continuing to purchase my usual dried nettles for tea. And for the very first time, I had freshly cooked nettles and they’re amazing! A mild and pleasing taste. I cooked them in some salted water, and ended up drinking every last drop of the broth too — it was thick and delicious — almost meaty. They’re so good for you, too. High in protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Cooked nettles

Nettles & white beans

And I love nettles tea because it works better than an antihistamine pill for me. This was an accidental discovery; I’m allergic to bee stings, and I get honeybee and ‘mixed vespids’ venom immunotherapy shots every 6 weeks so that my body gets desensitized to the venom. Normally I get a big, itchy 3″ wide welt on each arm where I get the shot, and I take a Claritin pill the morning of the shots to help counteract that. However one day I had some strong nettles tea before my shots, along with the pill. No welt! No redness! No itchy! At first I didn’t realize it was the nettles, until another time when I’d forgotten to take the antihistamine pill and only had nettles tea, and same thing! No welt. Finally I realized it was the nettles tea, and the pill wasn’t even really necessary. So now I make sure to have nettles tea before my shot, and every day for at least about a week afterward. It’s quite magical. If you have seasonal allergies (mercifully, I don’t), you might try nettles tea!

My favorite nettles tea:

2-3 Tbsp dried nettles

~1/2 Tbsp dried mint

~1/2 Tbsp dried lemongrass

In a mug, pour 8-12 ounces boiling water over herbs, cover, and steep about 15 minutes.

So anyway, back to the fresh nettles. I couldn’t believe my luck with finding patch after patch of them, and while I often travel with an empty plastic bag (you never know what you’ll need it for!), I didn’t have one with me on the walk. However my mom had packed snacks in a bag, and thank goodness she had! Precious, precious bag. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to collect any. Disappointing!

I had an empty little sandwich baggie which I used as a glove to pick them, though still got plenty of stings on my wrists. (The stinging compounds are easily neutralized once the nettles are either boiled or dried to a crisp.) I stuffed the bag full, and also took some plants with roots and have planted those in pots outside, hoping they’ll decide it’s a satisfactory location to grow. I’ve read that nettles are particular about where they grow; you might think you have the ideal location for them — but they have the last word.

Do you cultivate your own nettles? Have any growing tips?

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As you can see, the living room was full of nettles for a while. I ended up getting about 3 gallons, dried.

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Classic Tabbouleh

By , April 4, 2012

One of my all-time favorite foods, ever! This is my mom’s famous recipe.

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And since my diet has gone essentially low fat vegetarian, which is presently all my body will handle, this stuff is my mainstay. I plow through an entire batch all by myself every 2 or 3 days! And since I can’t eat much oil at all, I change up the dressing to be only a small drizzle of oil, and tons of lemon juice, and I’ve grown to really love it this way!

Also, tabbouleh is normally made with bulghur. I always make it with quinoa now since I love the taste of it and it’s more nutritious and also a complete protein — but bulghur is of course delicious too!

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Mom’s Tabbouleh

1/2 cup uncooked bulghur or quinoa*

1-2 cups chopped tomatoes — (2 cups = about 1 lb) (I always make it with 2 cups of tomatoes now, but if you do, you may need to increase the amounts of lemon juice and olive oil slightly)

2 cups finely chopped parsley — chop first and then measure (about 1 medium-large bunch parsley…but do measure it first)

1/2 cup chopped green onion or 1/3 cup finely chopped white onion

1 level Tbsp dried mint, crushed (or 2 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped)

1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt (about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp), or to taste

Pepper to taste

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Cook the 1/2 cup bulghur or quinoa* (1/2 cup grain to 1 cup boiling water + dash of salt; cover, simmer till water’s absorbed, about 20 minutes). Cool it to room temperature. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll put the hot quinoa into the freezer to cool it quickly.

Mix everything together in a big bowl. But if you don’t think you’ll eat all of it within a day or two, mix the dressing separately, and add it to the tabbouleh right before you eat a helping of it. That way the tabbouleh will stay fresh several days longer in your fridge.

Enjoy!

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*Cooking quinoa:

Be sure to rinse the quinoa well to remove bitter saponin residue. The quick way to cook it is to boil your water (ratio of 1 cup grain to scant 2 cups water), add some salt, add quinoa and cover, simmering until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

However, if you’re able to plan ahead enough, it’s much better, healthwise, to soak your quinoa for at least 12 hours to make it more digestible — the way traditional cultures do. Soaking grains neutralizes phytic acid (which binds to essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, and blocks their absorption) as well as enzyme inhibitors in the grain. Soaking also breaks down difficult-to-digest proteins and encourages the production of beneficial enzymes which in turn increases the vitamin (especially B vitamin) content of the grain.

So…

To soak quinoa: Thoroughly rinse 1/2 cup of dry quinoa to remove bitter saponin residue. Put 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar into a measuring cup and fill to the 1/2 cup mark with warm water, then mix with the quinoa in a bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours, or up to 24. When you’re ready to cook, rinse and drain the quinoa well, and place in a saucepan. Add a scant 1/2 cup of water, and a little salt. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Cool, and proceed with the recipe.

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Minestrone Soup

By , February 18, 2012

Minestrone - a variation on the recipe below

This soup is delicious. I sometimes alter the recipe depending on what I have on hand, so feel free to play around.

The recipe makes a pretty large pot. Cut the amounts back if you like!!

Minestrone Soup

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 large carrot, cut into 1/2″ dice

2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2″ slices

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2″ dice

1/2 lb potatoes, cut into 1/2″ dice

4 cups shredded green cabbage

4 – 6 cups chopped kale or swiss chard (1/4 – 1/2 lb)

28 oz canned chopped tomatoes with their juice (or feel free to use fresh tomatoes!)

2 to 3 tsp salt-free Italian herb seasoning

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (but homemade grassfed beef bone broth is delicious too!)

1 1/2 cups cooked Great Northern beans (or 1 15-oz can, drained)

Salt/pepper to taste

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*It helps to have everything chopped and ready before starting*

In a very large pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until softened.

Add carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring for 4 minutes.

Add the zucchini and potatoes. Cook, stirring, for another 4 minutes.

Add cabbage and kale (or chard) and cook till cabbage is wilted.

Add the tomatoes with their juice, the veggie broth, and the Italian seasoning.

Simmer, covered, for one hour.

In a blender or food processor, puree half the beans with some liquid from the soup. Stir the puree along with the remaining beans into the soup.

Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Salt + pepper to taste.

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How to Make a Beautiful Loaf of 6-Braid Challah Bread

By , December 15, 2011

Mmmm, challah bread! The perfect holiday treat for your own family, or a friend! Challah is a traditional Jewish bread eaten on the Sabbath and on holidays, and is usually parve (made without milk or meat); this recipe isn’t parve (okay with me since I’m not Jewish), but if you’d like it to be, just substitute oil for the butter.

Here’s the challah recipe that I’ve used for many years (plus my tips for success), as well as video instructions on how to do a pretty 6-braid loaf.

Before we start, know that this bread requires two risings. Keep your eye on the dough — once it has doubled each time, move onto the next step promptly. I wouldn’t recommend leaving to go shopping and letting it over-rise and sit around too long, because the yeast will consume more sugar than you want, and the resulting bread will be more yeasty and not as subtly sweet; if this happens, the bread will still be good, but not as good.

Ok, let’s get started!

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Challah Bread

7/8 cup water, at 100° – 110°

2 tsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup honey

2 eggs at room temperature

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 tsp salt

4 cups flour (I like using half white, half whole wheat…all white is yummy but not as healthy…or you could also use all whole wheat)

For the egg wash: 1 whole egg + 1 Tbsp water

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Proof the yeast by stirring it into the water and letting it sit until it’s bubbly and foamy on top, about 5 or 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and warm the honey if needed so that it’s free flowing.

Stir the salt into the flour in a large bowl, and add all the other ingredients (yeast water, honey, the 2 eggs, and butter).

If you have an electric stand mixer, now would be the time to use it, allowing the dough hook to knead the dough for several minutes.

If, like me, you don’t own a stand mixer, no problem! — with a wooden spoon, stir until a dough forms. With the same wooden spoon, pretend that you are the stand mixer. Knead the dough as best you can for several minutes, until smooth, using the spoon — digging into the center of the dough, twisting, lifting, dropping. I’ve made this bread many times and discovered that you want to add a bare minimum of extra flour, or else the resulting bread will be too dry. When kneading with a wooden spoon in the bowl, you won’t be tempted to add flour since the dough won’t be sticking to your counter, to your hands, etc., while you knead. (You can also knead with your hand inside the bowl! Either way works just fine.)

Now, with the dough in the bowl, cover the bowl completely with a lid, plate, or plastic wrap.

Set aside to rise until doubled in size. To speed the process, I like to turn the oven on for a minute or two, then turn it off (test with your hand to be sure it’s only just warm) to create a slightly warmer environment than the ambient temperature in my kitchen… then put the bowl into the warm oven.

Once it’s doubled in size, punch it down and gather the dough into a loaf shape, cutting it into six pieces of equal size. Feel each piece with your hand, re-distributing dough from piece to piece until they all feel about the same.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a rope as long as you like; mine usually end up about 18″ long.

Lay your ropes onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper (you can, instead, grease a cookie sheet generously, but I find that parchment is really a good tool in this situation, otherwise the egg wash tends to glue the edges of the bread to the sheet, making it a little hard to get off. You can certainly do it that way… but if you have parchment, use it here.) 😉

At one end, pinch the ropes together, and now you’re ready to braid! Watch the video below for instructions on how to do a 6-braid loaf (it’s not hard, and the end result looks very impressive!).

Once you’ve braided your loaf, it needs to rise until doubled in size. I’ve tried covering the loaf with wax paper, plastic wrap, a damp tea towel, and they always stick to the loaf no matter what. My favorite method, therefore, is this: turn on your oven for a minute or two until it’s slightly warm, and then turn it off. You don’t want it too warm! Meanwhile, boil some water. When the water boils, pour it into a couple of mugs, and place those in your warm oven. Put the uncovered braid into the warm oven, and close the door. (I like to turn on the oven light to add a little more warmth too.) This way, your braid can rise without anything covering it, and because of the high humidity, it won’t dry out while rising. Because of the warmth and humidity, this step may go fairly quickly, so keep tabs on the braid.

Once your braid is doubled in size, take it out of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°. While the oven’s heating, make an egg wash by combining 1 whole egg and 1 Tbsp of water in a small jar and shaking vigorously. Using a pastry brush, paint the egg wash onto the braid.

When the oven is hot, put your braid onto the middle rack and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden and the underside is lightly golden, but not overdone. Try not to over bake, as that will also dry out the bread. You want the top to be golden, but not too dark.

A nicely done underside will look like this. See how it’s golden also, but not too dark?

Let the bread cool, and enjoy! It’s delicious fresh, but also keeps nicely on the counter; seal it inside a bag to keep it from drying out.

It’s a wonderful gift to give, too!

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How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

By , November 4, 2011

I got a question the other day about what to do with green tomatoes… well, let me tell you!

Green tomatoes are always part of the Autumn routine for us. Once picked, most of them ripen over the coming weeks, and some years we’re still eating homegrown tomatoes past Christmas!

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Here’s how I handle all the tomatoes that we pick before the first frost hits:

1. Usually I leave the tomatoes hanging out in an uncovered cardboard box for several days or a week. This is usually because I don’t get around to addressing them, but it also allows the close-to-being-ripe ones to ripen more fully.

2. When I’m ready to deal with them, I gather a few cardboard boxes and some newspaper. I go through the tomatoes, separating ones that are showing signs of ripeness (light blushes of color or softening flesh) from the rest that are still very hard and green.

3. Put the ripening ones in their own box or paper bag, and check them every day or two. Or, leave them out on the counter.

4. I put the rest into boxes — only one layer thick — and then lay some sheets of newspaper on top. Over the years I’ve evolved through several methods of green tomato storage, and this is the one I’ve settled on. It’s my favorite because it’s the easiest, with the fewest tomatoes lost to mold.

Methods I’ve used in the past include:

– I used to cut squares of newspaper and wrap each tomato individually — unwrapping, checking, and re-wrapping them each week, and marking with highlighter the ones nearing ripeness. This is not only an insane amount of work, but it’s also totally unnecessary. There are easier ways to get the same result.

– After I evolved away from that, I would use only one box and put multiple layers of tomatoes in the box, separated by sheets of newspaper. This was a little better, but still involved removing layers of tomatoes and newspaper, checking, and re-layering.

Store the tomatoes, only one layer thick, in boxes.

Cover them with newspaper.

5. Ok, so anyway, you’ll have multiple boxes with tomatoes only one layer thick. For this reason I like to use wide, shallow boxes. The boxes can be stacked as long as they’re supported by the sides of the box below and not resting on top of the actual tomatoes.

6. Keep your boxes in the coolest place in your house. Perhaps that’s a coat closet in your foyer, or in your basement. For us, it’s in the stairwell that leads from our apartment to our outdoor side entrance.

Store the boxes in the coolest part of your house. Check your tomatoes at least weekly.

7. Check your tomatoes at least weekly. It’s as easy as peeking under the newspaper. I like to move the nearly-ripe tomatoes to the top of the newspaper so that I can watch them and grab them when they’re ready.

8. Not all the tomatoes will ripen. Some are just too small and green to hold much promise of ripening, so this year I’m going to pickle them exactly the way I pickle cucumbers, using my trusty pickle recipe.

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Do you have a good way of ripening your green tomatoes, or perhaps a good recipe that calls for green tomatoes?

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