Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What's For Dinner? Why, Soup, Of Course!

Hi everyone,
With the opening of our new store this week I haven't had much time to cook and I have been going for a lot convenience food and take-out. It's finally my weekend and my husband is sick. I'm about to put on a big pot of chicken-rice-vegetable soup as a healing food for him.

You know how ecstatic I am about it being soup season again. And with this unseasonably super cold winter weather in Portland this week-soup sounds super delicious. Wondering what to have for dinner tonight? Here is some great inspiration from our friends at Bon Appetit 20 Cozy Warming Soups to Make This Fall. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

3 Bean-Quinoa Chipotle Chili with Herb Gluten-Free Cornbread



I love cooking with beans. They are a staple in our whole foods diet and we eat them multiple times a week. Beans are inexpensive, very nutritious, and can be cooked in a myriad of ways. When I was doing some online research recently I came across a website for the Bean Institute. The Bean Institute is a clearinghouse of information on the nutritional components and health benefits of dry edible beans. What a hoot! On the Bean Institute website I found lots of great information on cooking with dried beans and a handy bean reference chart including cooking times.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy beans is in a hearty vegetarian chili. For this recipe I added quinoa. The quinoa contributes a nice crunchy texture to the chili plus even more delicious nutrition in this gluten-free whole grain. I like to simmer the chili on the stove for many hours. So I save this recipe for a day off work I'm home working on other projects. I make a big pot that will feed us several meals during the work week. Extra servings also freeze really well. It is well worth the time!

Be sure to serve with a delicious cornbread. I've experimented a lot with gluten-free cornbread scratch recipes and mixes. I have happily found the Pamela's brand cornbread mix to the best! If you aren't lucky enough to have access to Pamela's product line at your local grocery store, you can also purchase off her website. I love cornbread add-in's! For this week's recipe I used a handful of fresh herbs from the garden-chives and sage. Minced and added to the mixed cornbread batter. Delicious!

1 cup dried black beans
1 cup dried small white beans
1 cup dried small red beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
48 oz can diced tomatoes
2 vegan sea salt & herb broth cubes
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp brown sugar
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 tbsp tomato paste
Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese


1. Rinse beans. Place in bowl, cover with water and soak overnight. Next day, drain & rinse.
2. Put beans in a large stock pot and cover with water. Cook covered on medium-high for 2 hours.
3. In another pan sauté the onion and bell pepper in a splash of olive oil for about 8 minutes, until onions begin to soften and look translucent. Add the dried chipotle chili powered, cumin, and oregano-cook another minute until spices become very fragrant.
4. Add onion-pepper-spice mix, tomatoes, broth cubes to the bean pot. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 2 hours. Stir frequently, and add more water as needed to prevent sticking.
5. Add quinoa, sugar and tomato paste. Stir well and cook another 15 minutes.
6. Check flavor and add additional chili powder, cumin, oregano and sea salt as needed. If consistency is watery, add more tomato paste.
7. Serve warm with optional toppings: shredded cheese or sour cream. Always serve with a side of warm cornbread!
8. This recipe makes a big pot of chili-about 8-10 servings. Great for lunch the entire work week!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Maple-Herb Glazed Roasted Autumn Vegetables

I love some delicious oven roasted veggies during the cooler part of the year. They are great in a salad, casserole, soup or just on their own. Today I served them on a bed of savory brown rice with irish cheddar & spinach.

For today's recipe I whipped up a sauce that the chopped veggies marinated in before roasting. The marinade compliments the flavors of the veggies without dominating. It is composed of sweet maple syrup, a touch of mustard and garden fresh herbs. To enhance the pretty colors I used golden beets and a brilliant purple yam. You can really substitute any root veggies and winter squash you want in this adaptable recipe. Enjoy!



Marinade:
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 cup fresh italian parsley, minced
1 garlic clove, minced

Veggies:
1 purple yam, peeled
1 golden beet, peeled
1 acorn squash, peeled & seeds removed
6 carrots
2 yukon gold potatoes
1 yellow onion, skin removed

1. Whisk all marinade ingredients together and set aside.
2. Chop all veggies in large uniform pieces
3. Put veggies in a large casserole dish and cover with marinade. Mix well to coat. Let sit for 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake uncovered for 60-90 minutes. Check at 60 minutes. Cooking time will depend on size of veggie pieces.
5. Serve hot over savory brown with irish cheddar & spinach

Savory Brown Rice with Irish Cheddar & Spinach

Brown rice is a staple in our weekly diet. It is a delicious nutritious whole grain that is endlessly versatile. A gluten-free whole grain that is also inexpensive is a win win for me! Surely there is a time and a place for plain brown rice, however, it need not always be boring. This dish is not quite a risotto and not quite a rice casserole. It falls somewhere in between with the creaminess of a nice irish cheddar. Bright green baby spinach compliments the cheddar. This is a simple inexpensive recipe that makes a great base for a myriad of toppings. Today I served it with maple-herb glazed roasted autumn vegetables
.

2 cups short grain brown rice
4 cups vegetable stock or 4 cups water with 1 vegan sea salt & herb broth cube
6 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup irish cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp butter

1. Place rice and stock or water in a covered sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for 50 minutes. Do not remove lid and do not stir.
2. After 50 minutes, add cheddar cheese & butter, stir. Continue to cook for only a few minutes until the cheddar is melted and fully incorporated into rice. Turn off stove. You are done cooking.
3. Add the spinach leaves to rice, stir, and replace lid. Let sit for a few minutes until spinach is wilted.
4. Taste and see if you need additional salt. The broth cube I use is pretty salty so I don't add additional salt. This will depend on the stock you choose to use.

Inspiration for Autumn Cooking

I dedicate this one to Catherine. Get out of the cooking rut with lots of recipe inspiration! The weather is cooler, turn on the oven and get back into the kitchen. Here are some of my current favorite recipe inspirations:

Tandoori Butter Sweet Potato Fries with Creamy Baked Harissa Feta

Here's another one from Half Baked Harvest--Salted Caramel Mocha & Nutella Brownies. OH DEAR GOD!!!!

31 Delicious Things to Cook in October

From that buzzfeed article I am most excited about trying these recipes. Please visit all these awesome food blogs and give their recipes a try!
--Tart cherry glazed brussels sprouts
--Roasted vegetable salad with garlic dressing & toasted pepitas
--Quinoa with caramelized butternut squash & roasted brussels sprouts
--Mediterranean baked sweet potatoes
--Parsnip gratin with gruyere and thyme
--Roasted cauliflower with figs & olives
--Pasta with Cauliflower in spicy pink sauce

Vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes from Bon Appetit

Here are some great autumn recipes from epicurious

And, speaking of epicurious, I have the mobile app on my iPhone and you can search what's in season for your location. It will generate a list of local seasonal produce with links to recipes. Call me a nerd, but I love it!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cover Crops

Cover crops are sometimes known as "green manure." Cover crops are quick growing and planted primarily to keep the soil covered for a short period of time, often during the fall & winter. Then they are plowed under as "green manure" where they decompose and add organic matter to the soil. In addition to adding organic matter to the vegetable garden, cover crops suppress weeds by providing competition, reduce erosion, reduce nutrient loss from leaching and add nutrients.

Common cover crops are crimson clover, dutch white clover, vetch, annual rye grass, fall cereal rye, buckwheat, fava bean, oilseed radish, and austrian peas. There are also cover crop seed mixes that contain a variety of cover crops.

The lush green growth of cover crops returns large amounts of organic matter to the soil. Organic matter stabilizes moisture content and improves garden soil texture. When dug under the storehouse of nutrients in cover crops are returned to the soil.

Crimson clover, dutch white clover, fava beans, austrian peas and vetch are all members of the legume family. This means when they are used as a cover crop they actually return nitrogen to the soil. Legume plants are hosts to nitrogen-fixing bacteria and extract nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that can be used by plants. Legumes are awesome!

Fall is a great time to plant cover crops. Unless you are growing winter crops, you are probably cleaning up and putting your vegetable garden to bed at this time of year. Instead of just letting your garden rest during the winter why not plant some cover crops? Depending on the variety of cover crop you choose, they are usually seeded September-November. Plant cover crop seeds by broadcasting. The seeds need to be covered by soil and kept evenly moist while germinating. Most cover crops need a full sun location. Check seeding rates with individual varieties.

This year we planted crimson clover in our 3 raised beds we put to rest for the winter. We planted crimson clover seeds on October 6th. It wasn't raining so we keep the soil moist with a daily light watering. The seeds germinated in under 1 week!

I like crimson clover because it has the nitrogen-fixing powers of a legume, it forms a dense green carpet during the winter and it is easy to turn under in the spring. An added bonus is it develops beautiful bright flowers in the spring that attract bees. Unlike dutch white clover, crimson clover is non-invasive.

I have planted many varieties of cover crops over the years. My 2nd favorite would be fava beans. Fava beans develop into tall 3 foot plus plants. They are vigorous growers with beautiful flowers. In addition to their legume nitrogen-fixing powers, favas have a very deep taproot that loosens up the hard clay soils in Portland. In the spring, hoe down the plants and leave the tap roots to decompose in the soil. Fava beans have sturdy stalks are more difficult to turn under than a soft carpet of crimson clover. But they are worth it, especially if you have a new garden with hard soil. Let the lava tap roots do the work for you!

Oilseed radish have the same taproot quality of fava beans, however, they are in the cabbage family so you need to consider them in your crop rotation schedule. For this reason I wouldn't recommend them in a small garden space. I have grown both annual rye grass and fall cereal rye. My experience is they germinate fast and tolerate a wide variety of harsh conditions. Their dense mat of roots make them excellent erosion controllers. However, it is this dense mat of roots that make them extremely hard to turn under by hand. I learned my lesson one year hoeing my community garden by hand. It was back breaking work to break up the rye grasses and I will never plant them again.

You can pick up cover crop seeds at your local nursery or garden center. Plant them this fall and reap the rewards come next spring!



Our crimson clover & garlic germinated very fast at the beginning of October!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fried Green Tomato Salad Recipe #2

Earlier this month I posted about the joys of fried green tomato season! We have our last bowl of green tomatoes and I was inspired to create another fried green tomato salad with slight variation for the original recipe. I wanted this salad to be heartier with the addition of more vegetables and a creamy basil dressing. The feta, avocado and olives provide softness and those healthy fats. I discovered the Bob's Red Mill gluten-free 1 to 1 baking flour to work well for the green tomato batter. I added bacon to this recipe, but you could very easily omit it to keep it vegetarian.


Fried Green Tomatoes-see gluten-free recipe here
Salad greens mix
Sliced carrots, radishes, cucumbers and bell peppers
Sliced avocado
Crumbled feta
Crumbled bacon
Kalamata olives