Tag Archives: nuts

Safe Harbor

These are challenging times.  There is anxiety and confusion as we take in information and make decisions on how to best weather this storm.  Val and I are are sheltering in place for the time being.  I know many who are doing the same; I also know many who are not.  It’s sad that in this country the slightest inconvenience is seen as something insurmountable.  People hoard, people party, people refuse to see our interconnection.  What affects you, may also affect me, and vice-versa.  Val and I are evaluating our presence at our beloved farmers market.  Our schools are closed for 3 weeks.  The corona-virus is spreading faster than testing kits are available.  As interconnected individuals, what can we do?  Pause….stay calm….be kind.

I came across a meaningful Facebook post which I will pass along:

Conversations will not be cancelled.  Relationships will not be cancelled.  Love will not be cancelled.  Songs will not be cancelled.  Reading will not be cancelled.  Self-care will not be cancelled.  Hope will not be cancelled.

May we lean into the stuff that remains.

I took a walk in the sunshine this morning.  I could smell the land opening up to the approaching spring.  We will be planting our garlic soon.  I will be tilling the soil this week.  Is it so bad to take a step back and breathe?  Unplug for a while?  My new cookbook, Twisted Basics: Laugh, Cook, Eat!! invites you to do just that.  Slow down, make meals with your family, break bread together.  Dig a little deeper into our relationships with other.  Technology has opened up a whole new world; it has also separated us from each other.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-technology; I’m suggesting that we discipline ourselves, so that it’s not a 24/7 onslaught.  We need to think our own thoughts, make our own discoveries, nourish our human connections.  Nothing helps us reach that goal better than creating meals together.  The other suggestion I would make is that each of us spend a few hours a day in silence.  In silence we can calm ourselves, breathe, feel gratitude, be not only prayerful,  but hopeful.  It certainly starts within the safe harbors of our homes.

Zucchini Muffins:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large farm fresh eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups (280g) cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups packed grated zucchini
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 3/4 cups (400g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
  • 12-16 paper muffin cups

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Mix in the sugar and vanilla extract.  Stir in the grated zucchini and the melted butter.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and salt.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture. (Be careful not to over-mix!)  Stir in walnuts, raisins or cranberries if using.
  4. Place muffin cups in muffin tin.  Using a spoon, fill the muffin cups just to the top.  If you are using parchment liners (which I love), you can be slightly more generous.
  5. Bake on the middle rack of oven, until golden brown, and the top of the muffins bounce back when you press on them, about 20-30 minutes.
  6. Let cool on wire rack for 5 minutes; then remove from muffin tin and let cool completely.

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Yield: 12-16 muffins

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Autumn Leaves

It is cool and has been pouring since yesterday evening, with no sign of letting up anytime soon.  The vantage point from my desk is perfect for watching both weather and nature.  The current on the lake is from the north, and with each puff of breeze, leaves are letting go and baptizing the ground.  It is gray, and natural to turn inward; checking in on one’s feelings, hopes and dreams.

My personality is one of deep feeling.  I emote.  As a recovering DQ, you never have to guess where I’m coming from, because I will tell you, without hesitation.  I do better with small groups of like-minded people, who understand my straight forward presence.  I occasionally offend people with a perceived ‘bluntness’; yet this has been a trait that I have fought hard to adopt.  I was raised in a family that children were to be seen and not heard, leaving me with a feeling of invisibility that lasted well into my 30’s.  Harmony trumped truth in any social situation, regardless of my internal screaming.  Change is hard.

Although many people see me as strong and opinionated, I am also open-hearted, cry easily and rail against injustice, both real or perceived.  I accept that I will always be a work in progress, willing to love and be loved.  Cooking for others is my most sincere form of love.  Nourishment comes in many forms; a kind word, a compliment, or the warmth of a hug.  May we rely on each other for small gifts that are shared openly.  During this season of letting go, may I shed what no longer serves me.

STUFFED ACORN SQUASH

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large acorn squash (I like the Carnival variety)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 3 cups loosely packed, chopped greens (kale, Swiss chard or beet greens)
  • 3/4 cup almond slivers, toasted
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped for garnish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F., and halve the acorn squashes lengthwise down the middle.  Scoop out the seeds.  Place the squash cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush halves with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for about 45 minutes, or until the squash are fork tender.
  2. Meanwhile, place wild rice and water in heavy medium size pot.  Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down to a simmer.  Cook for 30 minutes to one hour, or until rice splits open and is tender.  This will be determined by the freshness of your rice.  Drain in wire colander and set aside.
  3. In a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and chopped onions.  Saute until onions are translucent.   Add chopped greens of your choice and continue cooking until greens are wilted.  Add almonds and dried cherries or cranberries, along with drained wild rice and combine.
  4. Fill each half of squash with filling, and place baking sheet back in oven for an additional 10 minutes.  Any leftover stuffing can be refrigerated and eaten as is or spooned over a salad.  Serve hot with fresh chopped parsley as garnish.

Serves: 4

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“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
― Humbert Wolfe

I’ve Gone Nuts

Seasonal.  We are entering the threshold of fall.  Tomatoes are waning, sweet corn is done; but there are wonderful options that are showing up at the farmers market stalls.  Peppers, for example are prolific right now.  I love them roasted, and rely on them in jars during winter; but what if you change something traditionally done with roasted and made it with fresh peppers?  Muhammara, a Syrian spread is traditionally made with roasted Aleppo peppers (although jarred roasted peppers work just fine).  It also has bread and walnuts in combination with the roasted peppers.   I wondered what would happen if I used fresh peppers and additional varieties of nuts?  Game on.

FRESH RED PEPPER AND NUT SPREAD

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use avocado oil)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup unsalted roasted pistachios
  • 3 medium red bell peppers, about 1 pound, seeded and cut into 2″ chunks
  • 1 medium sweet onion (I used Wall Walla), cut into chunks
  • 1/3 cup toasted bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat.  Add walnuts and saute for about 3-5 minutes until lightly toasted.  Remove with slotted spoon and place in bowl of food processor.
  2. Add pine nuts and almonds to same skillet.  Saute for 2 minutes, until lightly golden.  Remove with slotted spoon to plate lined with paper towels.
  3. Add pistachios to food processor bowl and pulse until finely chopped.  Place in medium bowl.
  4. Add red pepper and onion to food processor bowl.  Pulse until fine.  Transfer to mesh strainer to remove liquid.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Add strained peppers and onions to bowl.  Stir in pine nuts, almonds, breadcrumbs and olive oil.  Season with salt, pepper and ground cayenne.
  6. Serve with crackers of choice. (I use crostini)

Yield: 3 cups

“A recipe has no soul.  You. As a cook bring soul to the recipe.”  — Thomas Keller

 

 

Beyond Lettuce

I’m a huge fan of salads.  I could eat one everyday, particularly since we grow so many ingredients for them during the farm season.  When I was on a restricted diet following my recent surgery (the first 10 days were liquids) what I missed the most was a variety of texture.  God, just give me some crunch, something to chew!

Often times, when purchases from the farmer’s market are limited and the choice of lettuces from the grocery store are packed in plastic containers, picked over a week ago, you simply have to get out of the box.  If you want texture you have to get beyond the Honeymoon Salad (lettuce a lone!) and look for more seasonal fare.

There are many veggies that work beautifully in the winter for salads.  Try combining both fruit and vegetables like pear and butternut squash or kale, chickpeas and pomegranate seeds.  Nuts such as almonds, pine nuts or pepitas, hard-boiled eggs and hard or soft cheeses also work.  Try all kinds of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower or one of my favorites: Brussels sprouts.

Any type of cabbage pairs well with the smokey taste of bacon or pancetta. This gives you the option of making a warm dressing with some of the fat by adding something acidic like lemon juice or vinegar.  Get creative! Seasonal winter salads can be warm or cold.  They can be the center or side of a meal. You are only limited by your own imagination!

Brussels Sprout Salad With Warm Bacon Vinaigrette:

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  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 generous tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved and sliced thin using a mandolin or knife
  • 3 ounces shredded Pecorino cheese
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  1. Whisk together vinegar, mustard, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in small Pyrex measuring cup.  Add shallot, cover and heat in microwave for 30-60 seconds or until steaming.  Stir, then cover and let come to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
  2. Cook bacon in deep 12-inch skillet over medium-heat until crisp, stirring frequently.  Drain bacon on paper towels.  Add shallot mixture off-heat, stir until combined.  Add shredded Brussels sprouts and toss with tongs until dressing is evenly distributed and sprouts are slightly wilted, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer to serving bowl.  Add Pecorino, dried cranberries and almonds and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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Serves 4-6

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“What a wild winter sound,— wild and weird, up among the ghostly hills…. I get up in the middle of the night to hear it. It is refreshing to the ear, and one delights to know that such wild creatures are among us. At this season Nature makes the most of every throb of life that can withstand her severity. ”  –John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,” 1866