Glowing, radiant health is the new black. Our Green Table is serving it up, for the whole body! Healthy recipes and tips, the latest on eco-friendly food and "skin food"products and a head's up on ingredient safety are all woven into family-centered stories and discoveries. Bring informed, aware and empowered looks good on everyone!

Abrazos! xox Penny

Friday, July 30, 2010

In a Two-Way Pickle

I have loved going to the library this summer and so have a lot of other folks. It is always busy when I am there, actually beyond busy...packed. Exciting! What does have me in somewhat of a pickle though, is that almost every book I want to check out has gone AWOL, some since May. The librarian at the front desk said that often happens in summer and most likely, those books are permanently gone. And so, this leaves me in the "to buy" or "not to buy" quandary. Indecision.

While waiting to make up my mind and given its current state, I think I will actually make some pickles. I used to do that a lot. Last summer I made gorgeous red onion pickles, gingered carrots, pickled apple chutney and several other sweet and briny goodies that I ladled over terrific veggie dogs. Yum.

Here is the quick and simple recipe I use for refrigerator pickles...especially nice for impulsive decisions like this one. I have everything I need already. Just gotta finish this post and bottle them up. Feel free to adjust the sugar. These pickles are a cross between a tangy dill and sweeter bread and butter. Perfect for my indecisive state of mind!

Impulsive Refrigerator Pickles

1 pound medium cucumbers (I only had 2 medium and filled in with the mini seedless cukes to equal 1 pound)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
3 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled
sprigs of fresh dill weed
2/3 cup sugar*
6 tablespoons and 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
6 tablespoons and 1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
3/4 cup filtered water

Wash cucumbers and cut into spears and pack into a large glass jar. Add bay leaf, peppercorns, mustard seeds, garlic and dill weed. Stir together remaining ingredients and pour over cucumbers. Add lid and shake well. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. They will keep fresh for about 3 months.

*I use dark brown sugar because that is what I have on hand sugar-wise. The brine and the pickles will be a little brownish!! If that is not your fancy, take your pick between white and light brown.

****And in case you are in a "second" pickle over the news on heart risks from calcium supplements, here are some plant-based, calcium-rich goodies I munch on, guaranteed to be heart and bone healthy: kale, figs, all kinds of beans, organic tofu (in limited amounts), collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, okra, almonds, sesame seeds and of course, seed-rich Natural State Granola. There are many calcium-rich recipes on this blog, including Monday's Regal Fig Salad with Riccota Salata, my fave, The Queen of Green Salad. and Soothing Miso Soup. And so, no worries. Just "eat smart".

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pimm and proper

There was a new study released last week that said that Thursday was the saddest day of the week. Not here on Our Green Table. Gather 'round.  It's Happy Hour on Thirsty Thursday!

As luck would have it, I had a few "clear" beverages left over from last week. What to do, what to do.

There in our stash of not-used-so-much bottles was a bottle of Pimm's #1. I remembered having a "Pimm's Cup" many years ago and found it very festive, fun and refreshing. Happy. Just the perfect drink for today. The Pimm's website is a jolly old hoot, too, ready for 5:00 any time of the day it seems, or as they call it "Pimm's O'Clock!". Click on this link, answer a few questions and the site welcomes you with a "Tally ho and IN we go!" Really... such a fun invite to leave your Thursday doldrums at the door!

And so, putting that info to good use, here is the recipe I like...Cheers!

Thirsty Thursday Pimm's

1 ½ ounces Pimm’s No. 14 ½ ounces Reed’s Original Ginger Brew or Ginger Ale
1 thin slice cucumber
1 thin slice lemon, plus more for squeezing
1 slice strawberry
A couple of mint leaves

Combine the Pimm’s and ginger beer/ale in a tall glass, or something similar.  I chose one with festive sailboats. Add ice until the liquid comes almost to the rim of the glass. Add the cucumber, lemon, and strawberry, plus a small squeeze of lemon juice, if you like. Use a straw to bash the fruit around a little bit. Add the mint, and serve immediately.
Yield: 1 serving

And, just in case you missed our "cheer" yesterday...we received news that our blog was approved by the national Meatless Monday campaign, a non-profit initiative of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health!! Happiness indeed!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sooooo exciting!!!

It's another two post day with breaking news!!!

Guess what I got in my inbox today?!!! A note from the national Meatless Monday campaign that Our Green Table is one of the featured blogs! So fun!!  Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Here is what I got...

Dear Penny
I just wanted to let you know that we’re featuring you on our Bloggers on Board page. Check it out:

Bloggers on Board

The Meatless Monday movement is powered by the vision of smart, articulate bloggers. Here’s a selection of the blogs that go meatless every Monday:

Deliciously exciting news for sure!

And now for other breaking news: I Should Get a "D" for This.

Yes, I should. First, I waited until about 18 months ago to have my Vitamin D level tested which my former doctor did. Always slathered in either clothes or sunscreen, I am low in this crucial made-from-the-sun nutrient. It is almost impossible to eat enough Vit D-rich foods and so I take a supplement and need to check to be sure it is doing its stuff.  Not too long ago, I had to switch doctors because of a new insurance policy. Several months into my new dr's care, I had to ask for testing. "Shouldn't we be checking up on my Vitamin D levels?" Big mistake. She had my chart and history. And, I had to ask her for a bunch of other basic markers, too.

I am all about prevention and to the best of my ability, staying ahead of what could ail me down the road. So far, so good. The mistake I made when going to a new doctor was going to one who may not have the same philosophy. While she may be great at treating illness, I don't know. I am rarely sick and don't think about getting sick. I think about staying well. I want a doctor to partner with me, tell me what immunizations, what tests, screenings, etc. are needed for my age. Then, I can take it from there and get them done.

Vitamin D is nothing to ignore. The widespread deficiences are real and can create real problems. I am thrilled (and a little sad) that children are hopefully going to be tested for cholesterol. Vitamin D testing should be routine for everyone, and just like we all should know our cholesterol numbers, we should all also know our Vitamin D level! Get it checked. At the end of this post is a link to an article in yesterday's paper about this.

Here is what else to know: total cholesterol, LDL (lethal chol), HDL(healthy chol), height (sounds silly but we do shrink!), weight, BMI, percentage of body fat, fasting blood glucose, blood tricycerides and blood pressure. I may be missing something but knowing those will give a great picture of what's happening inside and a head's up to make some TLC lifestyle changes if needed before popping a bunch of meds.

OK, so all that being said, I guess I have Vitamin D-rich egg on my face. Want some, too?  Here is another gem from Gonnie's book:

Brightening Facial Treatment
1 avocado, mashed (She ate half of one every day.)
1 carrot, cooked and mashed
1/2 cup cream
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons honey 

Whip all ingredients until smooth. Spread gently over your face and neck, working in an upward motion. Rest for 10-15 minutes. Remove by splashing face with cool then cold water. "Your skin will now look bright and refreshed."

And here is the article:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Red,White and Food: Sharing

This beautifully weathered box from a C.S.A. is full of personality and seasonal goodies. Some weekly "shares" arrive in baskets, some in boxes and some are "grab and go". There are veggie shares, egg shares, fruit and flower shares, and shares of whatever the farmer has to offer. Community Supported Agriculture programs "share" their farm's bounty with members and in addition to farmers markets and food clubs, are a very popular and fun way to eat delicious local food and support local farmers. 

What caught my attention recently was an article about a C.S.A. started by a 13, now 14 year old. I love the two younger full of creativity, vision and gumption. This particular young woman has a wonderful story which is perfect for The Red, White and Food.

Last summer, at 13, she decided to spend her summer vacation farming a half acre of vacant land. Originally, she had visions of her own farm stand, but her parents thought that was not the best idea for a young girl. A creative go-getter, she grew all kinds of veggies and sold "shares" to 6 families, forming her own C.S.A. This summer she has about 15 kinds of veggies (and each veggie has several varieties!), herbs, and flowers. There is a whole group of families involved as regular shareholders and several neighbors involved as barter-type shareholders, swapping out their eggs and milk for her veggies. 

One of the most intriguing crops she has also came from a neighborly "share" that, in turn, came from another "share"! Her neighbor, a WWII veteran, got the seeds for his tomato plants from a German guard in a prison hospital. For 60 years he has grown those tomatoes and now, has shared them with her. Fabulous!!!

I was so taken with her story that I called her and talked to her mom for quite awhile (she was in the garden!) and they were gracious enough to share one of her recipes. Here is a big The Red, White and Food thank you...for sharing so much!

To find a C.S.A near you, click on this link:

Minty Green Bean Salad...deliciously refreshing and summer-y

1 pound fresh green beans
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped onions
1-2 sprigs fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon snipped basil
1/4 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 clove garlic, minced
sea salt and fresh black pepper

Cook green beans until tender but still crisp and drain. Put in a medium bowl and mix with garlic, onion and mint. In a small glass jar, mix olive oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, mustard, sea salt and pepper. Shake well. Pour over green beans and toss well. Let stand 1 hour to let flavors blend.

Note: When I made this, I made twice the amount of dressing to use again and added in a little more basil and mint.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Power of Great Design

Hmmm... I don't know why the header is pulling up "Saturday" because it is actually "Monday". Oh well, whether you are visiting on Meatless Monday just for today and one recipe, I am so glad to "see" you ! If you are here because you think our meeting "meatless" like this could turn into an every day of the week, every week of the month, life-long adventure, I am thrilled! I have gotten lots of questions about my new vegetarian eating plan and I am happy to share everything, starting with the first 2 things I had to learn, even for eating well on Meatless Mondays.

Most choose to become "(fill in the name it)" for very personal reasons. I had more than several and as I learn more, that list continues to grow. This decision was so right for me. I feel terrific and am having a blast. But, I do not like being proselytized...Talk to the hand!  And so, I am just going to share some tips so that if you do choose, even for a day, to go veg, that day will be a big building block in your overall health and will support your own personal journey. For more specific info, you can always email me. I love mail!

Here are the first two things I needed to learn:

Number 1: Time management

I was concerned I would be in the kitchen all day, which, hey, I would love but just isn't practical.  I do have a life. Clients to see and orders to fill. The great news is that I start dinner about 6:00 and eat about 30-45 minutes later. There are some recipes I make the night before (while cooking other things) so they can chill or whatever. But overall, the kitchen time is surprisingly breezy.

Number 2: Plate design.

Not this... (actually served in some restaurants as their meatless option! Talk about gag order...)

                                        Soggy Plate

But this....Here is a great visual "cheat sheet" for a balanced veggie meal that I got from a wellness group in New York. It takes all the guesswork out. No worries, no protein angst, just great eats:

Great design is everything in architecture, beauty, fashion and food....everything, and I eat first with my eyes. The good news is vegetarians work with a list of masterpieces. It isn't called the Plant Kingdom for nothing!!! There are a phenomenal number of beautiful foods to try out and what a joy to be exploring foods outside the "frequent 10". Most Americans cook and/or eat the same 10 foods over and over and over. Take a look at these beauties...and these are just a few of the veggie Kings and Queens! Legumes, fruits, grains...get in front of that camera! 

With that powerful, plant-rich plate in mind, here is a luscious salad made from the figs my neighbor brought over. Sweet and short-seasoned fresh figs are also available at farmers' markets and some regular grocery stores. The recipe is from my friend Stuart (not my pup!!) who is a chef on the West Coast. There are no exact measurements. Just remember the reduction will also be your salad dressing, and so add in vinegar, perhaps a smidge more butter, until it is the amount you need to dress your salad and taste to see if you need a little more honey to balance it out.

This is regal stuff, magnificently designed from the Plant Kingdom. Just add some fabulous whole grain crackers and you have a Power Plate! I served this with a gorgeous chilled beet soup, but in larger portions, it could be a light, stand alone meal.

Regal Fig Salad with Riccota Salata

Figs, destemmed and cut in half, lengthwise
Unsalted butter
Ricotta salata
Sherry vinegar
Toasted pistachios (I bought raw and toasted them)
Field greens

Remove stems from several figs and slice in half. Heat a small amount of butter in  skillet. When hot, add figs, cut side down and sear. Continue to cook until they are caramelized. Remove figs from butter and place on top of field greens. Grate or shave ricotta salata over warm figs.

To drippings in pan, add sherry vinegar and scrape pan to loosen up leftover caramelized bits. Stir in honey and pistachios. Spoon over warm figs and greens.

*Note: I did have to hunt some for the riccota salata and found it at small chain called Fresh Market. I think you could use any sheep's milk cheese or even a mild feta. The tanginess was the perfect playmate for the caramelized figs.

Friday, July 23, 2010

CSI Week: Clearly in need...

There are two posts today, OGT's version of "Dinner and a Movie"...
Post #1...
As some weeks do, mine started off so-so and then got better. Kind of like this post will.  I am going to let the story start where it actually did, though, and lead into a delicious ending. Maybe there are some things in the middle that may be helpful. Just in case you have a week like mine.

This was my CSI Week: cancer screening intensive. Got 'em all done.There is a lot of cancer in my family: my dad, brother (diagnosed with 2 cancers the same day as my dad...baaaad day for us), cousin, mother-in-law and a couple others I won't mention to protect their privacy.

Our family is not unusual nowadays. You'd think there was something in the food and water...

One of the things that I feel needs a good health screening is the list of gloppy "clear liquids" okayed to drink before some tests. Good lord. Most were riddled with high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, tons of sodium, preservatives...all the suspicious characters that are linked to illness!! One "beverage" listed MSG, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils and hydrolyzed soy protein!!  No way was I going to down 48 hours' worth of those liquids. My parents had some beverage glasses with "Name Your Poison" written on them. Sure makes one think...

In case you don't want to slug back those sketch-y liquids or even if you just want a stash of healthy clear liquids on hand in case someone gets the flu, here is what I found that is tasty, refreshingly delicious and not at all toxic: all kinds of regular teas and herbal teas, coconut water, lemonade, water with cucumber and mint in it and tea made out of steeping a few star anise "stars" in boiling water. I also froze my leftover coffee for a "slushy". It was kind of fun actually, thinking up new clear "spa beverages". There are also many great sparkling beverages. Here are two of my fave's: Izze's Sparkling Apple and Reed's Ginger Beer.

Also here is an especially fabulous tea recommended by The Divine Ms M. Loved it just by reading the had me when it listed "playful" as an ingredient. It is really delicious and great if you are trying to de-soda yourself or kids. Just do it!

Setting that fun aside, here is what I made to celebrate the end of  CSI week, such a colorful and happy dish and a great one to take to a potluck:

Celebration Soba Salad

8 ounces soba noodles*
1 pound sugar snap peas
3-4 stalks asparagus (optional), cut into 1 inch lengths
2 carrots, scrubbed and julienned
1/2 medium yellow and red bell pepper (they can be quite large!), deseeded and julienned
3 scallions, diced
2 T sesame seeds (toasted until golden in a hot skillet and then cooled. Watch closely. They can burn easily. If they do burn, try again. Burned sesame seeds are really bitter!)

Ginger Dressing

3/4  cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup shoyu or soy sauce
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice and zest from whole lime
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Heat a pan of water to boiling and add soba noodles. Boil until done according to the brand you buy. Times will be listed on the package and vary between 6-8 minutes. I do not salt the water. When done, remove noodles from pan and place in a colander to drain quickly. Rinse with cold water, drain again. Blot with towel and then pour 1/4-1/2 of dressing over noodles. Set aside.

In noodle water, quickly blanch snap peas, asparagus and carrots for a minute or two to your desired doneness. Plunge into ice water and drain. I prefer to blanch these veggies for this recipe instead of using them raw, but go ahead and omit this if you want.

Add veggies to noodles, add extra dressing and toss lightly. Sprinkle with chopped green onions, toasted sesame seeds and wedges of lime. If desired for a veg main dish option, also add in cubes of tofu.

*If you don't care for the nutty flavor of buckwheat flour soba noodles, you can substitute a fine spaghetti. Also, the dressing makes a lot and is great for other salads and as a marinade.

And now, for post #2...

Not a "Chick Flick"

There's your dinner and now, the movie...

Choosing wholesome foods can be challenging enough. Just when I think I've got that licked, it's time to take a bath, wash my hair or face and I have to look with an eagle eye at the "food" my skin is gobbling up. I have searched long and hard for wholesome skin and body care that is safe, honestly labeled and does the tricks I need it to. No more "green-washed" products for me. I want the real stuff.

My search has unearthed some amazing, truly healthy products that are working just as hard on my outside as the foods I eat. Health is a whole package deal, inside and out.

While not showing at Cannes, this blockbuster movie by Annie Leonard made its debut this week. Take 9 minutes and watch it (even though I cannot seem to format it correctly!) It is definitely not a "chick flick"!

For more power, information=power, visit this link , and if you are inspired by this movie, please sign the following petition:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Peach Buzz

I wish you could put your nose right up to the computer and smell these. Absolute ambrosia. Buzz-worthy.The other night I was watching "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid". Absolute ambrosia. Always buzz-worthy. And so I thought, why not combine the two? 

My sister-in-law makes a summer peach drink that I used Paul Newman's Newman's Own lemonade in. If you don't know about all the products and goodness of Newman's Own, here is the link:

Aside from being pure ambrosia to look at, he did so much for so many. I love the story of his visit to one of his Hole in the Wall camps. It was a hot summer day and he was eating lunch with some young campers. Of course, Newman's Own lemonade with his picture on the carton was the beverage du jour and the lemonade cartons were on the table. An astute little camper looked at him, then looked at the lemonade carton, then looked back at him and said , "Gee, how long have you been lost?"

Lose the heat, lose your worries and make this luscious, twice as peachy, summer drink. Happy Thursday!

Robin's Peach Fuzz

3 ripe peaches, seeded but not peeled
1 6-ounce frozen lemonade (use Paul Newman's if possible or, if you can't find the frozen, use just enough regular lemonade and ice to get the consistency you want...should be slushy)
6 ounces vodka
ice cubes

Put peaches, lemonade, vodka in blender and then add ice cubes to fill mark. Blend and drink immediately or let "mellow" for 3-4 hours. You can also make these 3-4 days in advance and freeze. My, wouldn't that be a tasty ice cube to add to any beverage!! Imagine the zip it would give iced tea!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What's a Girl Tutu? Gonnie's Salad is a Start!

Here is it in all its red, white and blue glory....the very thing my neighbor and I drooled over during our neighborhood's Fourth of July parade. Check out the looks on our faces... we want one...badly...and are having an impromptu Tutu Conference on just how to proceed. Give the two of us a holiday and we'll work it...

Eureka! Sweet gal that she is, the creator of this fabulous tutu has let me borrow it and I am in tutu creation mode. I plan on whipping these out for any gal who wants let me know!! Maybe I can even take them up a notch to this beauty pictured below...or in my case, way down a notch to ballroom length!


Tutu is a curious word, French-y and leads into a perfect segue for this post. There was an article in the NYT last week about French women and how most of them manage to age magnificently. Here is the link:

One of the keys is not gaining weight. This advice made me think of my grandmother and a little book she had written, hoping to publish, about growing old...beautifully. She did just that. Gonnie died at 92 with still naturally lustrous dark hair, a figure to whistle at (complete with an almost flat stomach) and a feisty sparkle to match. She was 85 in this picture with my sweet Lissa.

I have that book in its handwritten form and dug it out of its safe spot. It is a treasure and covers everything from eating well to "charm". She has tons of natural remedies for soothing your "complexion", "brightening" your hair and tons of exercises for everything from tired eyes to "the hangover" or "loose flesh that hangs over the brassiere(!), bathing suit or worse yet, the lovely evening dress." While written over 45 years ago, her remedies, exercises and advice are timeless. I need to dig in and read it all!

And so, if you are not French, what is a girl to do? Here is her advice... set a three pound weight gain limit. When you hit #3, back off and take it off or before you know it, 3 will turn into 5 and we know how that goes. Once I lost my "big weight", I have done pretty close to that and it does keep you vigilant, with Plan B in hand.

Here is the page from her book with an example of her eating plan: (breakfast is on another page) lunch (a small sandwich), her afternoon snack (apple) and dinner. My veg-ified Plan B is very similar, although also minus the milk.

Gonnie loved fresh fruit in season and talked a lot about fruit in her notes. Her summer favorites were melons and she could pick the best honeydew melons. Here is a recipe for a wonderful salad and dressing made from honeydew melons.

Green on Green Salad with Honeydew Dressing

For the dressing:
1 cup honeydew melon pieces*
2 1/2 tablespoons light olive oil or grapeseed oil
Grated zest of 1/2 to 1 whole fresh lime
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh snipped chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (I use flat leaf)
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh black pepper

* The sweeter and more perfume-y the melon, the better this is! Mediocre melon? Make something else!

Place honeydew melons pieces in a blender and liquefy. Pour into a fine sieve and let juice drain out. You will have about 1-2 tablespoons of juice. Add rest of ingredients. Taste to make sure it is citrus-y enough. I usually tweak the lime zest and juice. You are basically making a vinaigrette.

For the salad:
Pour dressing over salad of fresh greens, melon slices, cucumber slices, avocado slices and some fresh slivered fennel with a few lacy fennel fronds added. Garnish salad with extra mint.

This dressing is very perishable and so make it and enjoy. Refrigerate any leftover dressing in a glass jar and it should still be good for about 3 days.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Red, White and Food: Esau's Sweet Corn

I do meet the sweetest people. Today, at the grocery store, I was there gazing at a new load of corn. I had already gobbled up the corn I got this weekend from the Farmers Market. Local corn frustrates me a little because I am spoiled.  Everyone has a favorite taste for corn. In my opinion, it is hard to beat the sweet corn from the farms on Eastern Long Island. Under veggies, you will find a post about Harbes...the North Fork L.I. King of Corn...famous for their smokey-sweet, butter-drenched roasted corn and fresh lemonade. There is a DIY roasted corn recipe in that post, too. Check them out at:

But, I am on an adventure and corn is in all the farm markets and grocery stores now and so I am trying out a lot of corn! I asked the grocer if he had "butter and sugar" corn available which he did not and so I moved on to another section of the produce department. Before I knew it, I heard a woman calling me and heading lickety split over to talk. She is a state senator and wanted me to know about Esau's Sweet Corn. Corn that she said is pretty as a picture,  has "immaculate rows", baby fine silk and is the sweetest corn you will ever eat. She and her pals go to Esau's farm stand every summer, load up the car and eat corn until they are stuffed and deliriously happy. I found a picture of Esau's corn on the internet and it is beautiful. Look at those rows:

They do not have a website and I had to do some hunting to find them. They are in Dumas, Arkansas and available at this phone number: 1-870-382-5738. I spoke to the farm and it is located 4 miles north of Dumas off Highway 65. The Dumas Chamber of Commerce was where I began to track them down,

You can order in advance and they will have your order bagged and ready to go, but according to the state senator, go to their farm stand and linger.They also have lovely pastries available as well as other sweet treats. Here's is a big The Red, White and Food thank you to Senator Ruth Whitaker and Esau's Sweet Corn.

Knowing that both Esau's and Harbes may be out of your area, go on an adventure this weekend and see what corn you can find. Just may be your new favorite! Here is a recipe for perfect corn on the cob, sweet and simple. Just add your own butter and a napkin or two.  

Sweet Corn on the Cob

Drop cleaned ears of fresh, sweet corn into a pot of rapidly boiling, unsalted water. Let boil 2 minutes, remove with tongs and drain off excess water by rolling quickly in a dishtowel. Serve immediately with sweet butter, sea salt and fresh black pepper. Allowing 2 ears per person is a good idea!

If the flavor is not on the mark, then go ahead and slather with a tasty spread. I love pesto with corn and here is the recipe I use.

Simple Pesto

2 garlic cloves, peeled
dash of sea salt
3 Tablespoons pine nuts
3 cups loosely packed basil leaves, destemmed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano
2-3 Tablespoons Romano cheese
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whiz garlic, sea salt and pine nuts in blender until finely minced. Add in basil and olive oil. When smooth, add in cheese and softened butter and blend to consistency you like. For this last step, I press "pulse" instead of "blend" just to get it thoroughly mixed but not overly processed.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chicken Soup Redux

This is how I felt for several days last week. I had a headache to beat the band. We had a lot of storm systems roll through here and every one rocked and rolled through my head. Between my head and curly hair, who needs The Weather Channel? I am a walking weather report. Rarely under the weather, I was growing increasingly annoyed with the heat, humidity, storms and my headache-y malaise. I needed some chicken go-to remedy for almost everything. Soup, especially chicken soup, really relieves my barometricly induced head pressure. But, here's the rub. I don't eat chicken any more.

Fueled by pain, my curiosity kicked into overdrive. I remembered having some delicious miso soup last spring. There is a farmstand of sorts near Mom that serves miso soup in its take-out area. It is wonderful and very nourishing, and made with fermented organic soy, not the scary stuff. Sounded like the perfect soup to soothe me and help me learn something new. I am not very experienced in Asian foods...there are just a few Asian recipes on this blog and so pursuing miso soup looked like a win-win.  Just a note: There is so much hype out there about soy. It is in everything and so, be aware. You only want organic tofu and fermented soy products like miso, tamari and tempeh. Steer clear of as many soy protein isolates as you can...they usually have high fructose corn syrup and other bad actors in their mix.

I made a big batch and tweaked it throughout the week, adding in chopped green onions, leftover soba noodles, a few chunks of tofu and some baby bok choy.  Every day it was a little different and gave me the fix and relief I needed. It was all gone (and so was my headache) before I got to try out a bunch of other add-in's that would be good, like broccoli and mushrooms. Next time. The miso I had on hand also had a "per serving" recipe enclosed, if you don't want a whole pot full! Just like chicken soup, there are tons of recipes for miso play.


Soothing Miso Soup 

The ingredients were easy to find at the grocery (International Food aisle for wakame and refrigerated case for reasonably priced miso) and I even found the wakame at a drug store.

1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced 
3-4 carrots, julienned
3 T wakame, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes*
1 cup white miso (you can also use red or brown)

In a soup pot, combine 6 cups of  water, onion, carrots and wakame. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Add one cup of water to miso (it is a paste) and blend thoroughly. Add miso to soup and heat through to warm miso but do not boil! Miso loses some of its healing magic if it boils.
Serves 5-6.

*Wakame is a sea vegetable and comes in dried form and was new to me! Click on the picture and it should enlarge it so you can read what's on the package better. You rehydrate it by soaking in cool water for 5 minutes. The directions are on the bag. I used 3T from about a $4 bag and there is tons left for lots more soup. Wakame adds a nice salty/sweet favor.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Sweets

Look at what I found at my back door!!! These beauties are from my dear neighbor and her coveted fig tree. I tried to grow one myself but no such luck. Her tree is a legend around here.

Look at these can see they are just oozing sweetness...some have already burst open. I thought about caramelizing them for a recipe I have but, nope...I am just going to pop them in my mouth. Perfect just as is. Ahhh...Sundays! xoxoxoxoxo to you, sweet neighbor!