Wednesday, August 31, 2011

cinnamon sugar roasted almonds.

After weeks of non-stop tomato sauce and pickle making I was ready for something...different. NOT tomatoes! A favorite winter treat of mine is roasted nuts. I like them savory, sweet, spicy. All so good. I decided to make a batch of cinnamon sugar roasted almonds. Great for quick snacks and so delicious without being too sweet.

Many recipes call for using pre-roasted almonds, but I prefer to soak them first to get the best digestibility - so I start with raw almonds. It is really easy to do and doesn't take more work, just planning ahead. I like how the flavor of the almonds comes through more when using the soaked raw almonds.


4 cups raw almonds + 1 Tbsp sea salt for soaking
Soak 4 cups of raw almonds in filtered water (fill with enough water to cover) with sea salt overnight.
Drain and rinse the next morning and let air dry for a few hours (you could also pop them in the dehydrator if you have one, on low)


1 egg white
1/2 tsp. blackstrap molasses
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
a few grates of fresh nutmeg (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 250ºF

Lightly oil a cookie sheet (or cover with parchment)

In a bowl combine the cinnamon, sugar, salt and nutmeg - mix.

In another bowl whip the egg white, molasses and vanilla until it is foamy but loose, NOT peaks.

Toss the almonds in the egg white mixture and stir gently to coat.

Add the dry mix to the bowl with almonds, stirring as you do so all of the almonds are evenly coated with the mixture.

Spread the almonds in a thin layer on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until dry, stirring every 15 minutes.

It make take a little longer if you left the almonds soaking longer or they are still pretty wet. Just keep stirring/checking until the coating is nice and dry on the outside.

Remove from oven, allow to cool completely and then eat! Store in an airtight container.

did you know:: (Unless dry roasting is specified the commercial roasting process of nuts is a form of deep-frying, usually in coconut oil and palm kernel oil. By using raw almonds, soaking them and then roasting them yourself in the oven on low heat, you end up with more nut flavor and natural oils from the almonds.

good stuff:: Almonds are a fantastic source of vitamin E and manganese, and a good source of magnesium, riboflavin (B2), phosphorus, and copper.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

csa box:: week 10

We are at week 10, almost September! That of course means tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. The garden is peaking with tomatoes, the CSA box has tomatoes, and of course I need even more tomatoes. There is always a pot on the stove with some tomato recipe simmering away this time of year, and the shelves and freezer are filling up nicely.

:: in the box:: carrots, 2 kinds of peppers, a variety of paste/slicing/cherry tomatoes, lettuce, sweet corn, zucchini, garlic, dill, peppermint, onions

::extras:: thyme, sage, oregano, carrots, beets


more tomatoes! Our CSA farmer April passed along a crate of tomatoes - splits/seconds. I brought them home and immediately cleaned/chopped/processed them all out on the deck. I have some for eating (the Aunt Ruby's variety is awesome!) and the rest went in for another batch of sauce!

To see what was in the box this week in previous years click::
| 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 |

What is in your box/in season where you live?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

lemon balm iced tea.

If you grow mint and lemon balm like I do, then you know this time of year they are both attempting to take over the entire garden. Which of course makes it the perfect time to pick bowls full and make tea. I tend to use mostly lemon balm and add a cup or two of fresh spearmint or apple mint for a mild hint of mint. You can make this all herbal...or do as I usually do, which is add some aromatic green tea leaves at the end for some caffeine. Jasmine is fantastic.

This is such a good tea - you can really smell and taste the mint and lemon balm without it being overpowering. It just tastes like ... summer.

::picking tip::

It is best to pick some time in the morning before peak heat. Pick the overabundant fresh shoots and leave any woody flowering stems for the bees.

::how to::

Fill a crock pot/slow cooker with freshly picked and rinsed lemon balm leaves and stems (pick off any brown bits), and fresh mint (optional). Add enough water just to cover, and heat on LOW for 3 hours.

After 3 hours add a few teaspoons of green tea (if you want caffeine). Leave for 30 more minutes. Strain out all of the leaves/tea. Add honey to taste. Pour into a pitcher and chill!

A long slow low heat is good for freshly picked herbs - it releases more of the plant oils and keeps a nice bright color!

lemon balm:: Lemon balm is in the mint family and has been used for centuries to relieve stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease stomach aches. It has a great lemony fresh smell and flavor!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

csa box:: week 9

week 9.
::in the box:: beets, carrots, two types of summer squash, cabbage, a variety of slicing and cherry tomatoes, garlic, chives, peppermint, cucumber, scallions, broccoli.

::extras:: oregano, sage, chives, carrots, paste tomatoes (for home made ketchup!)

We have so many veggies the fridge is full, canning equipment always in the sink, there is a full cooler on the floor, and pounds are picked a day from the garden in addition to the substantial CSA produce. Yes, it is August!

To see what was in the CSA box this week in previous years, click::

| 2007 | 2008 | 2009 2010 |

What is in season where you are?

Monday, August 15, 2011

in my kitchen.

This is the time of year that something is happening in the kitchen non-stop. Where I can barely keep up with all of the veggies pouring in - and not only is the fridge full, but so is the cooler on the floor next to it. We are freezing, canning, drying, fermenting, baking. Here are a few things from my kitchen, and some great links to recipes and tips for the season!

Zucchini Pickles - These looked so good I had to make a few pints. I substituted yellow curry powder for the turmeric and the smell and color is amazing. They are crunchy, mustardy, and great on burgers. The recipe is from the Zuni cafe, via Martha Stewart.

I have been cranking out pickles - dill vinegar pickles, refrigerator pickles, lacto-fermented pickles, pickled veggies. I love the POP of the jar lid opening in winter. Sofya at the girls' guide to guns and butter put together a very thorough guide to canning pickles. Every single thing you need to know to make great dill pickles.

And Cheeseslave posted my favorite lacto-fermented pickles recipe this week.

I love dried tomatoes in oil. They are easy to make. You dehydrate cherry tomato halves until fairly dry, but still pliable (not crunchy). Pack them into a jar with dried garlic, onion and basil (I use dried to keep water content low). Cover with olive oil and voila! Use on sandwiches, pizza, salads. Whiz it in the food processor to make a spread. They store a few months in the fridge. I dry a LOT of tomatoes!

This summer squash and potato torte from Bon Appétit is so good I keep making it over and over. I like to add some heavy cream and extra freshly grated Romano cheese to make it more like a gratin. It is great with loads of fresh basil too. So delicious!

This is a yummy zucchini spread from Philly Homegrown. Good on so many things. This version I also added some red pepper and kale from the garden.

What is happening in your kitchen this week?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

csa box:: week 8

csa week 8. I can't believe we are in mid-August!

::in the box:: onions, a variety of tomatoes, slicing cucumber, pickling cucumbers, brocolli, two types of summer squash, sweet corn, chard, fresh garlic, chives and a pepper (I skipped the hot pepper after blowing my husbands face off with a spicy dish last week 8-}).

::extras:: beets, carrots, dill

Click below to check out what was in our box this week in previous years::
| 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 |

I love CSA day - coming home to sort, clean, load up the dehydrator, fill the oven, blanch and bag...and then making dinner from whatever I still have in the fridge to make room for the new. It feels good to see so much right there (I usually bring in the garden goodies too, to get it all done at once). Oh, think of how much we will enjoy it in January! I have a LOT of cucumbers - I need to get cranking on some more pickles.

What is in season where you live?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

creamy cucumber salad.

It is cucumber season and in addition to pickles and marinated cucumbers and tadziki and cucumber soup I love cucumbers this way. Creamy and tangy with a nice dressing. This recipe is my tweaked version of a Martha recipe.

4 or 5 medium sized cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2+ tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 small white onion, halved and finely sliced
1 tsp crushed dill seeds (optional)
1 tsp dehydrated garlic (crushed), or garlic powder
1 tsp dehydrated onion (crushed), or onion powder
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

In a bowl combine the sour cream, lemon juice, herbs and spices and stir to combine. Add the cucumbers and mix well until all cucumbers coated. You can serve immediately, but it tastes even better if you refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Cucumbers:: Cucumbers are a great source of vitamin A and C as well as potassium, manganese, folate, dietary fiber and magnesium. They also contain the mineral...silica!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

csa box:: week 7

It is August already! Week 7.

::in the box:: lettuce, sweet corn, cucumber, new garlic, summer savory, dill heads, pickling cucumbers, onions, 2 types of summer squash, peppers, cabbage.

::extras:: beets, carrots, broccoli, summer savory, sage, thyme, onions.

To see what was in our CSA box this week in previous years::
| 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 |

What is now in season where you live??

rice vinegar ginger fridge pickles

I love refrigerator pickles. We have our favorite tried and true recipes, but I also love making variations on both vinegar and lacto fermented veggies to keep it interesting. This recipe is a fridge pickle made with ginger and rice vinegar - it has a milder vinegar flavor with a light ginger aroma. Not too sweet, not too salty, crunchy and crisp. So good!

For the tastiest crunchiest fridge pickles, after slicing your cucumbers place them in a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss, and then let sit for 30 minutes to an hour (or longer) and then pour off the liquid before placing the cucumbers in the canning jars for the next steps.

::rice vinegar ginger refrigerator pickles::

3/4 cup rice vinegar
2 cups filtered water
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 onion, finely sliced
pinch of sea salt (see above, for sweating)
1 Tbsp kosher or pickling salt
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp of spice mix - mine included mostly dill seeds with some mustard seeds, peppercorns, a small dried pepper, and celery salt.
2 large heads of fresh dill, or sprigs if you don't have heads
2 tsp grated fresh ginger (more if you like)
How many cucumbers this equals depends on the size of your cukes. Enough to fill 2 pint jars...

After salting/sweating your cucumbers (see above) pack your slices into 2 pint jars along with one crushed garlic clove per jar, and 1/2 of the sliced onions per jar. Split your spice mix, grated ginger, and dill heads between the jars too.

Put the vinegar, water, sugar, and pickling/kosher salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Let salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat. Pour the hot liquid into the jars, covering the cucumbers, with a bit of head room. Push the cucumbers down if needed. Let cool to room temperature without any lids. Screw on lids tightly and put in your refrigerator. Great the next day, even better after a few days. Eat within a few months!

Tip:: when slicing your cucumbers toss the tips. The flower tip contains an enzyme which can make your pickles soft!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

slow roasted cherry tomatoes

For most people tomatoes are the epitome of summer. That one flavor that says long hot days and garden fresh. Our tomatoes are just starting to come in and I know we will have a good two months of fresh heirloom tomatoes from our garden and CSA. In the beginning it is hard to do more than to pick them and rinse in the hose before popping them right into my mouth.

My husband LOVES tomatoes too, but the acidity bothers him, so over the years I have expanded how I make tomatoes so that we can enjoy them more ways than only raw or for pasta in the early weeks. Today was the first day I picked enough tomatoes (isis candy cherry) to roast. When I am bringing them in by the bowl full I will start to dehydrate them too, but roasting is a fantastic way to enjoy them in smaller quantities. You can make huge trays of this, but I love making this in my toaster oven and use a ceramic pie dish or brownie pan. Using a toaster oven I don't have to heat the whole kitchen up on a hot day - they roast happily away and turn out perfectly every time. You can of course roast them in your full size oven. Roasting brings out the rich deep flavor of the tomatoes too.

I love roasting cherry tomatoes - but you can use any size of tomato. You will need to slice bigger tomatoes down into smaller pieces.

::slow roasted cherry tomatoes::

Slice cherry tomatoes in half, and place skin side down in your dish. Drizzle with olive oil and a nice splash of good quality balsamic vinegar (more vinegar than oil as it will cook down). Add a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add some whole garlic cloves if you like. Place into your oven at 275ºF for a two or so hours until the balsamic looks sticky and reduced and the tomatoes are slightly smaller and getting curly at the edge. There is no exact time as it will depend on the size and type of your tomatoes - just roast until they get softer, smaller, a bit darker, and curly edged but not all dried out. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Chop some freshly picked basil leaves and scatter over the top, and if you like drop in some soft cheese. I used brie here, but you could use goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, or slivers of good quality Parmesan.

When you serve, be sure to drizzle some of the sticky reduced balsamic over the top. SO good!