Making Things Easy and a New Years Resolution

This year I will cook more!

Said it last year too, but I’ll say it again in hopes that it sticks…

Easy dishes with lots of leftovers are best for me, here’s a couple of recipes I attempted at a mostly successful rate this past month:

Green Smoothie

Red Lentil Coconut Soup

Crock Pot Chicken and Stock

Cajun Cauliflower Hash with Fried Eggs

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Mmm, Get Your Greens

I always thought I hated smoothies, but they taste delish when you put just what you want in them! This recipe is adapted from my new friend Lauren Paige Tate of Speak Green Mississippi. She is the most fun to follow on Instagram, always posting such yummy looking healthy foods!

Green Smoothie

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Freeze in small portions for a quick on the run bfast.

1 tbl greek yogurt, 1 bunch of kale, 2 handfuls blueberries, 1 handful blackberries, 1 cup coconut milk, 2 cups water, 1 orange, 2 bananas, juice of 1 lemon (keeps things fresh), 1 tbl flax seeds, half an advocado, ice, AND if you are feeling BRAVE and can take it – 1 clove garlic! It will do you good…

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Winter Soup Time. Two for the freezer one for the fridge!

This vegan recipe for Red Lentil Coconut Soup made for some nice team work for me and Eli. It was filling, well-seasoned, and can be made in a pinch because it was so fast and easy.

Red Lentil Coconut Soup from Scaling Back (beautiful blog, check it out!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red split lentils
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 fresh jalapeno or serrano chili, finely chopped, including seeds (*This made it HOT! Leave out seeds if you prefer a milder taste*)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh peeled and minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 can unsweetened light coconut milk
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Method:

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pan and add the onions, bell pepper and jalapeno and cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and start to take on some color. Add the garlic, ginger, spices and tomato paste and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes until the mixture is toasty and fragrant. Add the water, coconut milk, lentils and chickpeas and cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes adding the lime juice at the end of cooking. Taste and adjust with more salt or more lime juice if desired.

Another whole chicken from our favorite poultry farm: Zion Farms. I picked up two for the freezer when I bought our Thanksgiving turkey. This crock pot recipe was DEVINE! It was a different taste than roasting the bird, but it was so easy and flavorful that it made a great alternative. It also provided a seamless way to make stock afterward. THOUGH… I need to work on timing… the chicken was done at 5:00pm – too early for dinner and the stock sat in the crock pot on low for like 15 hours (oops!) so we will see how that tastes! Love this blog where these recipes came from, 100 Days of Real Food.

The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large chicken
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine the dried spices in a small bowl.
  2. Loosely chop the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Remove any giblets from the chicken and then rub the spice mixture all over. You can even put some of the spices inside the cavity and under the skin covering the breasts.
  4. Put prepared chicken on top of the onions in the slow cooker, cover it, and turn it on to high. There is no need to add any liquid.
  5. Cook for 4 – 5 hours (for a 3 or 4 pound chicken) or until the chicken is falling off the bone.

Overnight Chicken Stock in the Crock Pot

INGREDIENTS
  • Leftover chicken bones or carcass roughly equivalent to one small or medium sized chicken
  • 1 onion, peeled and loosely chopped
  • 1 rib of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped (no need to peel)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh parsley
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Salt, to taste
    Note: If you are missing any of these ingredients I wouldn’t let that stop you from making it anyway (*I love these kinds of notes in recipes!*)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. After removing all edible meat from the chicken put/leave the bones, skin, cooking juices, etc. in the crock pot. If you are using the chicken carcass from the “The Best Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot” recipe just leave every single thing that’s leftover (except the good meat of course) in the crock pot including the original onion and spices you used when making the chicken.

  2. Add the onion, celery, carrot and spices on top of the bones and fill the crock pot almost to the top with tap water (leaving about ½” at the top).

  3. Turn the slow cooker onto “low” after dinner and cook all night long or alternatively you could start it in the morning and cook on “low” for 8 – 10 hours during the day.

  4. After the stock is done cooking turn off the heat and, using a soup ladle, pass the stock through a fine sieve to remove all herbs/bones/etc.

  5. Either refrigerate or freeze the stock for future use. I usually freeze some in both 1 and 2-cup portions, and I also sometimes freeze stock in ice cube trays just in case I just “need a little” for making sauce or rice.

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Cajun Deliciousness in North Miss.

I’m super proud of this next recipe which I found on Pinterest, but which actually came from The Curvy Carrot. It’s another good vegetarian meal that I made for my good bud Shaundi for our Saturday lunch date. My timing was so off, and the recipe claims the potatoes cook in 8 minutes… not true. They take more like 15 minutes – so keep that in mind! The original recipe calls for a soft boiled egg, which sounded hard, so I just topped mine with a fried egg (Shaundi cooked her own, I am a terrible host…). Shaundi went back for 2nds and 3rds, and then took some home so I guess it tasted pretty good! Cauliflower is always fun to play with, and I have a new relationship with the vegetable after picking them for hours in Italy in November.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 head of cauliflower, chopped (I chopped mine into bite-sized pieces)

2-3 celery stalks, chopped

1 and 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon Cajun spice powder (if you can’t find this, substitute whatever spice you like)

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1/3 cup water

3-4 red potatoes, chopped

2 cups fresh spinach leaves

Chives, chopped, for garnish

Instructions

1. In a large sauté pan (one that you can cover with a lid), heat the olive oil until shimmering.

2. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 4-6 minutes.

3. Add the cauliflower, celery, chili powder, Cajun spice, salt, pepper, and water and let cook, covered, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the red potatoes and let cook, covered, for about 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.

5. Add the spinach and cover, and let cook until the spinach is wilted and cooked, about 3-4 minutes.

6. Top with soft boiled eggs (*or fried!*), season with salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh chives (*or not* achem, bad host…).

And now for just a tad of Ingredient Snobbery:

The school food topic of the week for me has been margarine. They use margarine in most recipes in the Oxford School District. For information on most nutrition topics, I turn to Marion Nestle. Her book “What to Eat” is a comprehensive go-to for topics ranging from what does ORGANIC mean to the deal with artificial sweeteners. Get it. Just invest.

Anyways, here’s a summation of what she has to say about margarine:

“Most margarines are basically the same: mixtures of soybean oil and food additives. They are high in fats and calories.

I don’t eat margarine. Why would you want to put soybean oil on your bread? I’d much rather put olive oil or butter. A little goes a long way.”

In order to make the oil mix that makes up margarine spreadable and edible – the oils are hydrogenated. This means treated the oils with hydrogen until they roll over and say “Okay! I’ll be a liquid now!” This process also means they develop the dreaded trans fat qualities – the worst kind of fat for your heart/cholesterol.

So use a little butter. And when you have had more than a little butter turn to one of earth’s many natural other substitutes like olive oil or coconut oil. The butter we use is unsalted from Brown Family Dairy here in Oxford. The full flavor will make you never turn back to that margarine mess!

One last mention of butter alternatives. I do believe that if for some reason you cannot have butter, and a substitute makes more sense for your life, go with Earth Balance. Their margarine-type product is a blend of oils that does not require hydrogenation, therefore it does not contain trans fats. It tastes very similar to butter, is vegan, and the company does a good job keeping up their responsibility to cultivate sustainability wherever it goes. You can buy it at our Kroger here in Oxford, so I imagine it’s available wherever you are as well ;)

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Terra Madre

Welcome to Terra Madre

Welcome to Terra Madre

I sat sandwiched between two women from Burkina Faso and Kansas City. After 48 hours of planes, trains, and automobiles, I was exhausted to the point where I could barely keep my eyes open. I heard French on my left, Chinese on my right, and Italian all around.  The lights dimmed and the music began: I had arrived at the opening ceremony of Slow Food’s Terra Madre Conference.

Slow Food is a non-profit organization that promotes good, clean, and fair food. Chapters across the world use these values to host gatherings, promote social change, and invest in heirloom and specialty foods so that they can flourish in a world where commercially produced foods reign supreme.

Every other year Slow Food International hosts the “Terra Madre” (Mother Earth) conference in Turin, Italy. The conference is made up of representatives from every country from around the world (including the Acrtic and Syria this year) coming together to talk food. The intent is to listen, discuss, and share ancient traditions and new innovations in food production and consumption. This year, Slow Food selected me to attend as a participant, and further as a Slow Food Congress Delegate from the United States.

Love this tagline: "Eat Local, Act Global"

Love this tagline: “Eat Local, Act Global”

The conference was overwhelming in its bounty of inspiration, but I would like to share a few highlights with you here:

Connections:

Friends and Gelato

Friends and Gelato

I started making friends in Paris as we waited for our flight to Turin – and the friend making continued throughout the whole experience. While on the Paris/Turin flight I met Kathryn Underwood, a city planner who is creating food policy in Detroit, while on the bus from the airport to the Opening Ceremony, I met an Ethiopian archeologist helping to preserve seeds and food traditions. At my hotel, I quickly became friends with Gabriela Othon Lothrop, the president of Slow Food Orlando who has created a three-tiered events system where they throw inexpensive to no cost events like potlucks, mid-range events like biking farm tours, and high-end events such as fancy farm dinners. This way, Gabriela’s Slow Food chapter is able to reach all audiences at all price ranges. She says the expense of the event is dictated by the talent of the chef, while the ingredients used are all high quality and sustainable. The conference continued to serve up an inspirational person around every corner. I met my food world heroes: Alice Waters, Vandana Shiva, Nikki Henderson, Curt Ellis, Carlo Petrini (founder of Slow Food), as well as many others. But just when I was beginning to think the conference was all about getting to know amazing people, I began to taste…

Meeting Alice Waters

Meeting Alice Waters

Philippines Booth

Philippines Booth

Klippfisk from Norway

Klippfisk from Norway

Tastes:

Walking through the conference center, countries were arranged by world region. As I traveled from place to place, I sampled food from as many booths as I could. I had ancient grain crepes filled with fig spread from France, sliced melon from Northern Italy, maté tea from Brazil, cured white fish from Norway, real vanilla bean from Madagascar, all while walking from one end of the arena to the other. It was a true celebration of food. This part of the conference was really something you have to see to believe. There was a street food from around the world section, an entire room dedicated to wine tastings, and an indoor “African Garden” created with fruit and vegetable plants from all over Africa. There were taste workshops for everything from wine to coffee to bread. In these workshops you heard from the farmers, chefs, and creators of the product you tasted. I participated in two workshops. One was presented by Lavazza, an Italian coffee company, and included coffee from around the world a part of their fair trade initiative. I also attended a taste workshop entitled “Awaken the Senses”, organized by students from Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Italy. This workshop included an exploration of taste, sound, touch, and scent – all to discover ingredients making up a meal (which we had to guess!). Then we dined on re-creations of classic dishes, such as caprese gelato. My exploration of food continued post-conference in Italy, and led to the following experiences…

"Reawaken the Senses" workshop

“Reawaken the Senses” workshop

The Nougat Man

The Nougat Man

Procuitto

Procuitto

Stringing tomatoes

Stringing tomatoes

Food from around the world!

Food from around the world!

Delicious

Delicious

Experiences:

When the conference ended I had nine days to spare, very little money in my pocket, and no plan. Through the friends and connections I made at Terra Madre, I capped off my adventure with trips to Cinque Terre, Florence, and Rome, followed by a three-day farm stay. I traveled with two wonder women: Stephanie, who works for Georgia Organics connecting organic farms to citizens in Atlanta, Georgia, Nicole who is starting a local foods co-op in Bent, Oregon, and I navigated trains, drank lots of espresso, and wandered around these magical cities together.

Nicole, me, Stephanie

Nicole, me, Stephanie

In between these adventures with friends, I broke off to work on an olive farm an hour north of Rome. I picked olives all day, climbing trees to reach the little red and green harbors of delicious oil, and ate delicious meals most of the rest of the time. Two chefs from Canada were visiting the farm and cooked for their stay – much to my reward.

The Olive Farm

The Olive Farm

Picking Olives

Picking Olives

It was the most exquisite food I have ever tasted: wild boar sausage with roasted fennel, freshly baked sourdough bread, apple torte made with wild apples chef Dana found, the list goes on and on. While the work was hard – it was worth every meal a hundred times over.

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One night, I was able to see how olive oil is made by visiting the ancient olive stone press in town. Olives must be pressed with stone so that no heat is conducted at any point in their processing into oil. Did you know really fresh, delicious olive oil is green at first?

The farm trip rounded out my trip to Italy and brought everything together for me: Farming is hard work, food is love, and enjoying food with others is one of the best ways to create peace.

Beautiful Artichokes

Beautiful Artichokes

There is no other event such as Terra Madre in the world. Closest would be a United Nations conference or the Olympics. Terra Madre brings together a unique crowd of farmers, chefs, and activists alike – all passionate about good, clean, and fair food. These values are more important than ever as the world confronts staggering numbers of undernourished peoples – both hungry and overfed. The conference reinforced my own mission to create a paradigm shift towards delicious, healthy, and reasonably priced food for all. I am one person, but being a part of this conference assured me I am not alone.

Tossing a coin into the Trevi fountain, ensuring my return to Italy!

Tossing a coin into the Trevi fountain, ensuring my return to Italy!

As I embark on a journey here in Mississippi to help create better school lunches for the students of Oxford Public Schools, I feel more ready then ever. The ground is moving, these changes are coming, and we can all look forward to sharing many good, clean, and fair meals together. I encourage everyone reading this blog to explore food – meet your local farmer and discuss their struggles, eat a locally grown meal with friends and family, discover the food scene in your town – there are many avenues to make these delicious discoveries with me and I look forward to what is to come!

To learn more about Terra Madre: http://www.terramadre.info/pagine/welcome.lasso?n=en

To learn more about Slow Food: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/

To find sustainable foods where you live: http://www.eatwellguide.org

 

Thanksgiving: The Armchair Foodie Cooks More Than Ever Before!

I can’t think of a better mid-term exam for my culinary adventures than Thanksgiving: a day where I am charged with the challenge of creating a whole slew of dishes for 5 people who have high expectations and refined palates!

This past Thursday, my mama, her partner Jim, and his daughter Ashley all drove in from St. Louis to celebrate Thanksgiving with me and Eli. Jim and my mom have been budding gastronomes since meeting in 2008. Together they have attended cooking classes, fine dine-d, and shared kitchen space with Jim’s Culinary Institute Grad son, Nick. Jim is very particular about ingredients, techniques, and tools :) He requires all sorts of unique and fancy things such as a “chinois”, pie weights, and “whisk-lets”. I was excited to be presented with the challenge of cooking a Thanksgiving meal for this groups, and also to have Jim prepare a dish or two and work magic with the leftovers.

Here’s the menu I put together:

20121125-110009.jpgPretty basic! People like to try crazy new things on Thanksgiving… I wanted to keep things very simple, work on technique, and use high quality ingredients. I also felt like because I was only making this meal for a very manageable number of people, that I could really do some cool scratch cooking.

Timing is always my challenge (achem, see Italy post to come…) so I worked on when I would cook what. I started with making the cranberries and pumpkin pie the day before.

This recipe from Grub by Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry is wonderful and will turn you away from EVER using canned cranberries again! Grub is a sweet cookbook and what I especially love is that they pair music with each course for a whole cooking experience. I could write 4 whole blog posts on my love for this cookbook (1 for each season!).

Apple-Cranberry Sauce

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup sweet and tart apples, peeled and diced (about 1.5 whole apples, eat the rest)

1/2 cup orange juice – fresh squeezed is best (but if you live in a semi food dessert, as I do, just do your best – I used Naked brand…)

2 tablespoons sugar

pinch of sea salt, ginger, and cinnamon

Combine in a sauce pan, boil, then reduce to a simmer and stir every two minutes for 10 minutes “until soft with some chunks remaining”. Then stick it in the fridge until it is cold and you are ready to serve!

Eli and I then set out to create the pumpkin pie – from scratch! We even did the crust from scratch because Jim says there is no other way to do it :)

This was an adventure.

From googling “pumpkin pie from scratch” I came across this gem: Mrs. Sigg’s Fresh Pumpkin Pie. It has 393 five star reviews, so you know it’s good.

Pumpkin Pie (taken from Mrs. Sigg’s Fresh Pumpkin Pie)

1 sugar pumpkin

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

2 eggs

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk [we used cream instead – see ingredient snobbery]

Directions
  1. Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Either mash, or puree in small batches in a blender. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, slightly beat eggs. Add brown sugar, flour, salt, 2 cups of the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and evaporated milk [cream]. Stir well after each addition.
  3. Pour mixture into the unbaked pastry shell [that you make, yourself]. Place a strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the crust to prevent over browning.
  4. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees F, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the strip of foil about 20 minutes before the pie is done so that the edge of the crust will be a light golden brown. Cool pie, and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

This was a lot of work, but kind of fun with Eli’s help. We did lose a nice wooden spoon to the blender… a result of me loading pumpkin goodness into the blender and Eli with a heavy finger on the pulse… so also, there was a little wood in the pie… oops! We also created our own pumpkin pie spice because all stores were sold out when I went shopping. Eli was very scientific about his pumpkin spice blend, and he may recreate it for sale ;) It was very clove-y (LOVE cloves). And for the crust we used this recipe:

Perfect Pie Crust (stolen from simplyrecipes.com and halved, for a bottom crust – no top)

All Butter Crust for Sweet and Savory Pies (Pâte Brisée)

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 /2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp ice water

1 Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough doesn’t hold together, add a little more water and pulse again. Note that too much water will make the crust tough.

2 Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface.If you want an extra flaky crust, shmoosh the dough mixture into the table top with the heel of the palm of your hand a few times. This will help flatten the butter into layers between the flour which will help the resulting crust be flaky. You can easily skip this step if you want. Gently shape the dough mixture into a disk. Work the dough just enough to form the disk, do not over-knead. You should be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These small chunks of butter are what will allow the resulting crust to be flaky. Sprinkle a little flour around the disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.

3 Remove crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes in order to soften just enough to make rolling out a bit easier. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. If necessary, add a few sprinkles of flour under the dough to keep the dough from sticking. Carefully place onto a 9-inch pie plate. Gently press the pie dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the pie dish.

I’m not sure making your own crust is necessary. I mean, it was delicious, and I think with a little more practice – could be even better, but took a lot of time and work – so… Guess it depends if you’re in the mood! I recommend at least trying it once.

The pie was delish! We ran out of time and cream for whipped cream, but it was so yummy, I don’t think we really missed it.

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photos: pumpkin in the blender, Eli’s secret pumpkin pie spice blend, filling the homemade pie shell, and the perfect slice (below)

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The pie then went into the oven, then fridge with the cranberry sauce to cool for the big day.

Thursday arrived and my anticipation was crazy! I couldn’t decide on the timing of anything, so it was all wacky. With a goal of 4pm for dinner, I knew the turkey was most important to get right. I took notes from various sites and relied on my new bff, Alice Waters (The Art of Simple Food – perfect title for this book, by the way) for cooking the turkey. Ended up stuffing it with a mire poix of veggies – carrots, celery, and onions – along with some garlic, rosemary, thyme, and sage. We then rubbed it with olive oil and stuck it in the oven! All this prep time took longer then expected, plus we decided to use Alice’s method of flipping the bird (haha) two times throughout the process, taking even more time (and resulting in some burnt fingers)!

Before the turkey was in the oven, I made the biscuits from the same recipe in this blog: A Week of Mistakes and Delicious Biscuits. This time, I made them with half whole wheat flour. Mistake. Use all-purpose white only if you create those (which you should, cause they’re amazing).

I was then in a baking mood and decided to make some blueberry muffins for snacking throughout the weekend. They were great, but also led to the turkey making it into the oven a half hour later than planned… oops. Note to self: muffins are great, but turkey comes first.

The St. Louis gang arrived as Eli and I were elbow deep in the turkey. Jim got to making the mashed potatoes right away. They were very fancy and included a potato ricer, garlic cream, and lots of butter. Mom and I made a simple green bean dish with lemon and slivered almonds (from The Art of Simple Food again, it was a very Alice Waters Thanksgiving). I decided to skimp on the stuffing since most of the other things were made from scratch and bought a mix from Whole Foods. Eli then spiced it up with a mire poix and some delicious sausage that Jim brought. Whew! So many people in the kitchen, so many things to do – I thought it would never come together!

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But it did, and it was good.

After a two hour walk-off-the-dinner trip around campus we returned and ate the pie.

And everyone knows, the best part of Thanksgiving is leftovers! Less work, same delicious tastes. Jim made a fritata the next morning with turkey, eggs, and potatoes and then crepes Saturday night with the cranberries. Yes, he made crepes – at 10pm after the Ole Miss/Miss State football game. It was a treat!

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photos: cranberry crepes, DELISH sea salt and grapefruit marmalade from Brooklyn that also went into the crepes (THANKS SARAH HUGHES!), and Sunday Tgiving sandwiches.

All in all, I didn’t ruin Thanksgiving, which I say is a win. And, I actually enjoyed cooking these things! My favorite was making the pie, and baking the biscuits and muffins. Turns out I really enjoy baking. I hope to get to that same place with cooking eventually. Really awesome ingredients make all the difference though, and therefore…

Ingredient Snobbery:

Best of all is the turkey. Along with eggs and two chickens for later in the freezer, I picked up the turkey at Zion Farms in Pontotoc, Mississippi on Tuesday. It was a cool experience – when I arrived, the chickens there scattered so I could park, I waited in line with most of the Baptist church from Pontotoc to get the best turkey in town, and played with chicks and farm kids while waiting in line! Getting to see where your food ran around and being able to interact with the people who directly raised/grew your food for you is the best. Last week I had an intense discussion about the poultry industry with someone from Eli’s department at Ole Miss. We talked about industrial/commercial poultry and what the repercussions of shutting down those farms and factories would mean. It would mean jobs lost and more expensive meat – I get that. By the year 2000, the average American ate 66.5 pounds of poultry per year (http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter2.pdf) – a LOT. When you eat less meat and more vegetable/bean based meals you are helping yourself by gaining the health benefits (see this link from the Mayo clinic) and helping the world by buying less meat – which really takes a toll on land and requires feed that tends to be mass produced such as corn. Spending less money on the amount of meat you buy means you can spend more money on the quality of meat you purchase. This means having more room to buy local, growth-hormore free, and antibiotic-free meat.

If I still have your attention and your interested, you should check out this video the Huffington Post posted on Thanksgiving day. Really puts it all in perspective! Thanksgiving Turkey: Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Your Bird

And I’ll leave you with a clip from my time at Zion.

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Returned from Italy, Needed some comfort food

A great big blog on my amazing trip to Italy including Slow Food’s Terra Madre, a farm stay, and more is coming soon!

In the mean time, when I returned last night I needed some good ole comfort food. I had peas and bacon so I whipped up this dish I found from googling “peas and bacon” last night.

Split Pea Soup with Bacon and Rosemary

  • 4 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium leek (white and pale green parts only), sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 14 1/2-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups green split peas, rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled

Sauté bacon in heavy large pot over medium-high heat until crisp and brown. Add onion, leek, carrot and garlic and sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add broth, peas, bay leaves and rosemary and bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until peas are tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

It was easy and perfect. I love soup season because it’s so easy. I recommend it, and freezing half for when you are too tired to cook.

Here are two other dishes I made between this and the last post (hence, the name of this blog – I’m terrible at getting myself to cook):

Dinner for a Meat and Potatoes kind of guy. An ad-libbed recipe from someone who never does that.

Eli and I mostly eat vegetarian meals (partly because it’s bad to eat too much meat, partly because I don’t like cooking meat, and partly because vegetables and beans are so wonderful), but we had both been craving some red meat lately (we must be iron deficient, and it is ALMOST kale season here YAY!) so skirt steak sounded wonderful. The local butcher (LB Meats in Oxford) had two of perfect size so we were good to go.

I decided just to skillet up the steak (following an Alice Water’s recipe for pan-seared meats). It was tough, some pieces were burnt and some were a little pink – but it tasted good all the same.

Then I threw some potatoes into the oven, chopped up into little bite size pieces. Complimenting this hardiness was a nice green salad with a homemade vinaigrette and there you have it! Eli got a meat an potatoes dinner.

Here’s a picture:

Looks good, tasted OK.

I also made a real fancy dish while visiting St. Louis early October.

Frank Stitt’s Okra & Tomato Pirlau

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 ounces slab bacon, cut into ¼-inch dice

1 cup sweet onion, such as Vidalia, diced

½ cup red bell pepper, diced

1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped fine

2 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

14 ounces canned tomatoes, chopped

2½ cups water, plus extra as needed

Kosher salt

2 cups okra, stems removed and sliced ½-inch thick

1 cup basmati rice

Black pepper

Fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced into ribbons, for garnish

Country ham or prosciutto slivers (optional)

What To Do

1.In a deep pot, warm oil over medium heat. Once hot, saute bacon until soft but not crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Stir onion and pepper into pot. Cook over medium-low heat until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Cook until fragrant but not colored, 1-2 minutes.

3. Stir in tomatoes and their juices, water and a pinch of salt. Increase heat and bring to a simmer. Stir while roughly smashing tomatoes.

4. Add okra and rice. Stir, cover and cook at a gentle simmer until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Add extra splashes of water, as needed.

5. Season with pepper and salt, to taste. Stir in reserved bacon. To serve, garnish each plate with basil ribbons and ham, if using.

It turned out delicious and gives me hope that my cooking skills can improve!

Ingredient Snobbery:

Real quick, before I go. For the conference in Italy, we were asked to bring a food item from our hometown to share with other US delegates and one to share internationally. There are so many wonderful things to take from Mississippi, but I decided most unique would be the Kudzu Bloom Jelly from Pontotoc Ridge Blueberry Farms, just a half hour east of Oxford. I also brought along some Grit Girl grits, grown and processed in Oxford.

Kudzu is an invasive species taking over the south. Its long green vines climb up buildings to erode them, take over farm and landscape, and make everything look like a beautiful mystical forest. They bloom once a year, and Teresa Holifield of Pontotoc Ridge Blueberry Farm has decided to make lemonade out of lemons by creating a truly delicious jelly out of the stuff. I went to the farm to pick it up and was treated by Teresa to a full farm tour and great conversation about what it is like to farm in Mississippi.

Kudzu:

Kudzu Bloom Jelly:

The kudzu jelly (I brought two jars) ended up with a great new friend from Orlando, FL who has the rockin-est Slow Food chapter and is making local happen in her fun town. The other jar went to the olive farmer I worked for in Tuscania, Italy.

The Grit Girl grits are traveling all the way to Senegal right now. The Senegalese brought couscous to share with Terra Madre and we made a nice trade!

Look forward to some awesome re-capping of Italy to come soon!

XOXO,

Sun

A Week of Mistakes and Delicious Biscuits

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I may have to start planning meals – like looking at the week, planning a meal for each night, and then grocery shopping accordingly. Turns out I am really bad at just looking what is in the cabinet and fridge and pulling something together. I need a recipe, instructions, and little deviation from the plan in order to make this happen I am thinking.

But that is not something I am inspired to do or plan on doing – so we’ll see how this goes.

I made a couple of things this past week:

Potato Cumin Curry

Homemade Salsa

Tea Cookies

Fanny Water’s Biscuits

And then lived off leftovers and whatever Eli could cook up at the last minute.

The Potato Cumin Curry was a Mark Bittman recipe. I love him and had never tried any of his recipes before, this one was great minus one large misstep!

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Here is the recipe:

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The flavor was delicious and the potatoes cooked perfectly in the time he allotted. The problem was that I used dried garbanzo beans and did not properly prepare them for this dish. They were hard and chewy…Next time I will soak them overnight instead of trying to do the last minute thing.

The homemade salsa was a result of a great gift from the parents – a food processor! I have always wanted one :) But now that it’s here – I forget what recipes I wanted it for… So send some along if you have any favorites.

I am not going to post either the recipe or picture of the salsa because it was that bad… I think I put too much garlic (though I never imagined that was possible before), too few tomatoes (cause I don’t like them), and something made it very watery and terrible. Oh well.

The tea cookies were alright… basically tasted like flour with a little brown sugar sprinkled on top – though that very well could be the way they are supposed to taste? Eli and I were in a rush to a pre-football game lunch and I thought I would bake something fast. Larnie had come to visit earlier in the week (yay! ALL of you are welcome to do the same!) and gave me this awesome book by Elizabeth Gilbert and her grandmother, At Home on the Range. I want to read it cover to cover eventually, but I found this recipe as I was doing the initial flip through the pages. It said “fast” and “baking” so I was attracted to it. I will try this one again in the future.

And now for my most proud accomplishment this week – Fanny Water’s homemade biscuits!

My cousins Lynn and Tessa gave me Alice Water’s daughter’s cookbook, Fanny at Chez Panisse: A Child’s Restaurant Adventures with 46 Recipes for college graduation. The book is written for children and all the recipes are meant to be able to be cooked by children. This is a great challenge for me ;)

These biscuits turned out great and were really fun to make. I suggest this recipe big time! Eli and I have been eating them with just a little jelly (see Ingredient Snobbery below) and I would really like to make some gravy or something to go with them for dinner. But my mind doesn’t work backwards like that.

Here are some great biscuit pictures.

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The Recipe:

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Ingredient Snobbery:

I used Garam Masala for the Mark Bittman dish. The spice mix I used was created by Eli’s mother, Shirley! I’m not sure how she did it, but it made the whole house smell delicious.

I was finally able to procure some local chicken and eggs this weekend at the farmer’s market! Yay! I am super particular about chicken because of what has become of the chicken industry in the US. Even if you are purchasing chicken from Whole Foods, or it says on the package that it is Free Range, Natural, or Antibiotic-Free – you do not know what you are getting… If those labels are being regulated at all (natural is not), the restrictions are still so loose that your “Free Range” chicken may have just had a little bit bigger of a cage and still never saw daylight… Buying chicken from a local farmer means you are going to pay more, but if you think about raising animals and everything that goes into keeping a healthy animal alive, well, and plump – then I certainly am willing. So I bought a chicken and eggs from Zion Farms here in Oxford this week. The picture below shows one of the perks of having fresh, local eggs (find the feather):

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The jelly we have been using on the biscuits is from a local canning family in Holly Springs, MS. They have the most divine creations including the Wild Grape Jelly we have. Everything they use either comes from their own garden, neighbor’s gardens, or foraging (like the wild grapes). It’s too bad they are just canning as a fun retirement project and not for a full time career. They only sell their products once a year at the Annual Hummingbird Migration Festival. I stocked up (but not on their awesome salsa, cause I planned on making it, oops).

Challenges:

- Being prepared. Having a stock of things I need on hand to make dishes on a regular basis without having to run to the store. Having recipes in my head that I feel confident whipping up on a regular basis (other than pasta!).

- Using things in their time. Not letting veggies sit in the fridge.

- Defrosting meat. Eli and I have a running problem of incorrectly defrosting anything, especially meat. We often throw away stuff we have not defrosted properly.

Here’s to hoping to a little more inspiriation in this week to come… Please send along easy and seasonal recipes if you have time! And you may even get a special feature on the blog.

Lots of love and Happy New Year! 5773

An Adventure in Egyptian Food

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All the ingredients needed. Together for the first time.

There have not been any posts in a week because all of my attempts to plan meals failed…

This meal, which has been “planned” since day one of the blog when sister, Amye, sent me the recipe – finally became a reality last night.

It was a true adventure for someone who does not know how to cook / have any sort of cooking sense. Here is what she gave me:

egyptian lentil soup, by: amye

basically: 1 bag lentils, 1-2 cartons broth or stock (chicken, beef, veggie, whatever), white onion, garlic, tomatoes, carrots, spinach kale

seasoning: curry powered or garam masala, cumin (a lot, like almost a tbsp), salt, pepper, cayenne/red pepper, cloves (tiny bit! too much and it will mess up the soup), lemon juice

cook onion in olive oil until see through, add carrots and cook for a little bit, add tomatoes and cook for some more, dump in lentils and stir up so they get coated with oil, put in enough stock/broth to cover lentils, simmer until liquid is absorbed, repeat, repeat until most of 2 containers is gone
oh yeah, but those spices in before the broth
once boiled and everything is soft, use your immersion blender and immerse the hell out of it
put back on the stove, add chopped kale and spinach and lemon juice, stir for a minute, and fresh cilantro (dried cilantro/corriander has no business in a kitchen), put in bowl, put in mouth
I was thinking as I looked over this about the Peanut Butter and Jelly skit that people often did at camp talent shows. For those of you who don’t know it: One person (a counselor) stands on stage with a table and everything you need to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A camper is called on to instruct the counselor on stage on how to make a PB&J. When the camper says something like “first you spread the peanut butter on the bread” the counselor takes the peanut butter jar, unopened, and begins to spread the jar on the unopened bag of bread. Everything is taken at the literal level, until the camper realizes that they have to instruct the counselor on even the most minute details of the process, “…open the bag of bread and take out two slices, lay each slice on the table, open the jar of PB, get your knife, hold the jar with one hand…” etc etc.
Well, that’s how I felt last night with this recipe. For someone who doesn’t even know what onions are supposed to look like when they are “see through” this task sure was a challenge! I was unclear of proportions, cooking times, heat of stove, everything! I decided to only ask for Eli’s help on a rare occasion.
First oops – we were out of chicken broth… But I did have some bones from roasting a chicken in the freezer from last week. So I googled broths until I had found one that I had the ingredients for. I was so excited and felt like such a do-it-yourselfer/ homemaker! I threw in the frozen bones, filtered water, a chopped up carrot, onion pieces, a couple of whole peppercorns, a basil leaf or two, and a little salt. Disaster. The recipe said not to bring it to a boil, but it felt like no matter how long it sat on the stove – the “simmer” was not going to happen. So I turned the heat up and it boiled. I felt like I had ruined it already but decided to persist. Then we wanted to go out, but every time I felt like it was at a good place it would all of a sudden boil over and get frozen chicken bone water everywhere. In our desire to leave the house to help Oxford celebrate the Rebel win – we turned it off and left. To make the dish last night, I just bought some broth…
Second oops – Amye also sent a naan recipe to go with the soup (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Naan/Detail.aspx). Eli and I LOVE naan so I was pumped to make my own. I bought all the ingredients, got home 3 hours early to prepare and then BOOM. No rolling pin, no grill, no “tandoori oven”, can’t use the cast iron skillet on the glass top stove. I folded, much to Eli’s chagrin.
Other than those two things, only small upsets occurred during the actual creation of this dish. With Fiona Apple’s new album blaring in the background for strength, I chopped, stirred, and immerse blended everything into what turned out to be an absolutely delicious dinner that will last us a while!
If anything, this dinner gave me a little more confidence in the kitchen, which is exactly what I needed.
Grade from Profession Eli John: A++
The final result :)

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Welcome to Mississippi, Parents. It’s Southern Food Time.

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My Dad and Jody headed down to visit this evening from St. Louis and “requested” I make them dinner tonight. Alright, I’m up for that challenge.

I decided to welcome them with the following menu:

Purple Hull Peas with Bacon over Rice

Fried Okra

Somebody’s Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread

and a fresh Salad for dessert for digestion ;)

OH Yes, and some DELICIOUS watermelon that was handed to me at the end of a meeting last night

I started with the cornbread. It just came out of the oven and it smell’s so goooooooood! It was fun to make and easy:

Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Jody is such a health nut that I decided to use buttermilk in AT LEAST two dishes this evening.

Best thing about this dish (other than all the fat) was the eggs (see ingredient sobbery below).

Next I worked on the Purple Hull Peas and Bacon. This one was EASY – which I love about a recipe. Though I think I added too much water. How do you ever know!?

Fresh Southern-Style Purple Hull Peas

Fresh Southern-Style Purple Hull Peas

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon bacon grease

4 strips of bacon, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 1/2 pounds fresh, shelled purple hull peas

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the peas and set aside.

Add the bacon grease to a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon to the pot, and sauté until the onion becomes transparent.

Add the peas to the pot, then add enough water to cover the peas.

Bring the water to a boil. Cover the peas. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow the peas to cook until they are tender, approximately 30 minutes. (Do not overcook, or the peas will become mushy.)

Season with salt and pepper and serve.

I’ve got white rice down at this point, just following the directions on the packages. I plan on conquering brown rice next, which consistently turns out over or under cooked every time I make it…

And now for the disastrous okra.

Paula Deen has let me down. I have always admired her, but never attempted creating one of her masterpieces of southern cuisine. And I’m a little scared to try any more, now.

Here’s the recipe: Fried Okra. Don’t try it. It resulted in some really greasy pieces of okra with little bits of fried flour and buttermilk. And I burnt it. Eli ate all of it and Jody got the last two pieces which she claimed were delicious. Doubt it. If anyone has a fried okra recipe to share, I am happy to try again – just don’t send me any Paula nonsence. We are on bad terms, currently.

Eli made the salad and a homemade dressing.

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It was mostly delicious save for the okra. Okra – if you are listening – I will be back.

Ingredient Snobbery:

This morning I got to tour Yokna Bottoms Farm just 10 minutes outside of town. It is your quintessential sweet southern farm, complete with farm dogs and wraparound porch on the gorgeous farm house.

If you know me well, you know I LOVE chickens! Doug at Yokna has 30 chickens and after my tour I went to collect eggs. 2 of those eggs helped create the scrumptious corn bread!

Kind of a weird moment I have never experienced when I was gathering eggs… I was taught by a 7 year old in Boulder that when the hen is still sitting on the eggs, you keep her from pecking your hand by putting a stick near her beak. That way when she wants to peck, she gets a mouth full of stick instead of flesh :) This led to a pretty incredible/gross moment… While I was collecting eggs from “Lady Godiva” (I gave her that name, it seemed fitting (see photo below)) I lifted her up and out popped an egg WHILE I WATCHED! I felt like a chicken midwife. It was warm and sticky so I let it sit there for a little bit while I collected the others. Then I kind of felt bad like Lady Godiva had special expectations for that one egg, but there was no rooster in sight, so it would have been an empty hope :(

Farm Pics:

In order of appearance: Farm Dog(s), the eggs I picked, and Lady Godiva

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Grade from Professor Eli John: A- (just for the okra incident, everything else was pretty much loved)

Who knows what kind of divine disasters will come this week! Stay tuned. Lots of Love.

My Favorite Vegetable Makes Her First Appearance: Kale and Potato Soup

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Tonight I had a menu prepared: Lentil Soup with Homemade Naan straight from the kitchen of my sister, Amye. BUT the best laid plans…

Turns out naan takes 3 hours to make and while I thought I had purchased some awesomely colored lentils from the market the other day, Eli informed me they were actually black beans. I got home around 6, headed to the kitchen around 7:30 and then realized that a new plan had to be made.

Looking at all the fresh produce I had I determined what would go bad first (or what was just right on the brink tonight) and did some googling for recipes. When I reached my breaking point – i.e. everything I found had ingredients that I didn’t have – Eli came in to save the day and took out the trusty The Art of Simple Food by my fave, Alice Waters. Phew! So Kale and Potato Soup it is. And though now we are looking at a 9:30pm dinner time, I feel somewhat accomplished.

I can credit Amye with this anyways, cause she gave me the book as my maid of honor present at her weddin’ this year. THANK YOU.

Curly Kale and Potato Soup

1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 bunch curly kale, washed, stems removed, roughly chopped
large pinch salt
6 cups chicken broth

1) Heat oil in large pot. Add onions, cook until soft and beginning to brown, 10-15 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a few additional minutes.

2) Add potatoes, kale, and salt and stir for a few minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes (or until potatoes and kale are tender.) Add additional salt, if needed.

Top with parmesan and some good extra virgin olive oil

It’s not written the way Alice writes it above, but if you don’t have this book, I recommend it big time. The book is framed for someone who does not cook a lot and even gives you a list of stuff to have in your kitchen. Her recipes are written in paragraph form and are very intuitive – so when you get to the potato part, you know that you were supposed to have peeled and cut it already – it’s not a surprise. Buy book here: The Art of Simple Food
It turned out well and was a nice end to a Hurricane Isaac induced rainy day.
Only a little ingredient snobbery:
The garlic and kale are from one of my new favorite Oxford hang-outs: The Farmers’ Market Store open daily for your shopping pleasure and where you are bound to run into wonderful people – including owner, Liz, who seriously rocks and is a friendly jewel of a lady :)
Grade from Professor Eli John (who also did some chopping and stirring in order to move things along, <3 ): B+
Quickly though – from those of you who ENJOY cooking… What do you do when you are waiting for onions to become “translucent” or when you are waiting for the broth to boil? I GET SO BORED. Could be part of the reason I don’t love cooking. Any advice is welcome. I did pull out the new National Geographic at one point, but then everything almost burned. Ugh. Yoga?

Use that Zucchini! Muffins

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I have this habit of getting overly excited at farmers’ markets and purchasing so much food (sometimes because I have chatted up the farmers for some long at their booth that I feel like I HAVE to purchase something from them, case in point I bought a pound of muscadines today? Haha, so muscadine pie to come soon…) that it goes bad.

This happens to me with zucchini all the time because it is so inexpensive – and I love vegetables and it’s really such a great one.

So today I settled on some zucchini muffins. Recipe courtesy of MyRecipes.com and some lady named “Kathie”. Love her, because these turned out really well for my first blog!

Also, I hate it when people are like “Oh, its so easy to make, blah blah blah” and then its like a nightmare to gather ingredients and try and do so much at one time – BUT this is actually really easy, so just trust me on that one. And should provide breakfasts and late night sweet tooth cravings for a 1/2 a week at least.

Here we go (modified just a tad from MyRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded zucchini (about a third of a medium-sized guy)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola/vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg
  • something to grease up the muffin tins – I developed a mechanism out of a butter stick for this task, that was fun
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

  1. Spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Combine zucchini, milk, oil, honey, and egg in a small bowl; stir until blended. Make a well in center of flour mixture (this part was really enjoyable to me); add milk mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon/pour batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
  2. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle over tops of muffins. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack (or a pretty plate, like I did)

And then your house will smell good and you will have some delicious treats with a vegetable in them (GREAT!).

Ingredient snobbery:

The cinnamon is from an awesome little spice shop in Boulder, CO called Savory Spice Shop via one of my favorite foodie muses/best friends Sarah “Better wear your loose pants when she invites you over to dinner” Babbitt. It’s a Vietnamese cinnamon and is more flavorful than your average spice. Great in savory dishes, I think this cinnamon may have been one huge reason these muffins were so divine.

Zucchini was from the Mid-Town Farmers’ Market here in Oxford, MS.

The milk I used was whole and is from Brown Family Dairy (watch the video if you have time!). I am not a milk enthusiast at all, I really hate it, in fact, but this milk seriously rocks. It tastes like white blissful heaven. I am really itching to get out to the dairy, as I herd (get it?) recently that Mr. Brown has the happiest (sorry, CA) and friendliest cows around. You can walk right up to them and thank them for their delicious milk while giving them a quick rub on the head. I love cows.

The honey is also local, from Mardis Honey Farm (the result of chatting with bee keeper at market for so long / needing to purchase something from him…) It’s so yummy and tastes just like the honey you would imagine pooh bear pining after. “Straight from the bee’s mouth to yours” (eww or cool?)

Well, that’s that – time to head off to another culinary adventure! Lots of love.

Sunny

Grade from Professor Eli John: A+

For the love of food…

No longer all talk – I am about to really dedicate myself to lots and lots of cooking, combined with some gardening (that will start Spring 2013 – so stay tuned!) to start practicing what I preach in a whole new way.

Great ready for lots of delicious meals combined with tons of dry, burnt, and bland dishes as well! I welcome you to join me on this journey and I also encourage you to comment/post messages from your own personal inner foodie.

ALLEZ A CUISINE