June

prickly pear cactussour fig and creeping jenny

Summer school is happening. Three credit hours’ worth of material in six weeks means I studied for nearly seven hours last night to prepare for this morning’s class. This is my new normal. I think it’s safe to say that June will be the month of five minute meals.

Also: Hello, summer! Anything below 85 degrees does not count in my book, so thank you for finally climbing into the 90s. I am happy. My gardens are happy. Please stick around.

prickly pear in bloombeans and greens

Quick pan-fried cannelloni beans with coriander and thyme

§ § §

This recipe makes one generous serving, but doubles (and triples) easily. The beans taste great on their own, but I like to heap them onto toast atop a bit of cashew cheese, or over a bed of greens. Salt plays a starring role in this dish, adding both flavor and texture. You’ll want to use a coarse salt, fleur de sel if you have it. Maldon or another kosher salt will also do.

§ § §

1 cup cooked cannelloni or other white beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme

In a small bowl, mix together the nutritional yeast, salt, coriander, and pepper. Set aside.

Warm up the oil in a skillet, add the beans, and toss to coat. Arrange the beans into an even layer, and coat cover with the seasoning mixture. Turn up the heat – the goal is to quickly brown the beans on one side. After a couple of minutes, toss everything together in the pan, so the beans are evenly coated with the seasoning. Continue stirring over high heat until just starting to brown all over. Remove from heat, add the thyme leaves, and season to taste. Serve immediately.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes

Advertisements

Pre-garden tour // five minute miso cashew chèvre

I’ve been meaning to give a garden tour for ages, one of the entire grounds. It’s a lot – my gardens and beds are spread out over 15 acres, and every time I think about it I get overwhelmed. Until I finally realized that I don’t have to do it all at once, and then I got excited! Starting next week, with my kitchen garden, I’m going to give you mini tours of this wee little farm I love so much.

The recipe I’m sharing today pairs really well with a lot of things growing in my kitchen garden right now, both sweet and savory.

kitchen garden cross sectionThe corner of my kitchen garden, home to sprawling herbs, many pots of various sizes, and full of hidden frog and lizard burrows.
kitchen garden toad and frog Most of the pots offer temporary housing to seedlings or plants while I decide on their permanent places of residence. They are also home to many a burrowing toad; Nina made a temporary dwelling for a couple of toads we found in a pot while transferring plants. After everything was put back in order, we released them back into the garden.
kitchen garden VastraThis photo of Vastra was taken a few weeks ago – the bed of greens behind her is now completely overgrown, despite us cutting salad greens every day. I leave a ground cover of chickweed year-round, so that when the girls jump their fence and make a beeline for the garden, they’re distracted enough that we can catch them. Don’t feel sorry for Vastra! She and her flock has a very nice fenced in dwelling, which I’ll show you during an upcoming tour.
tangy cashew chevre w. radishesA dark rye tartine with homegrown radishes and chive blossoms.
tangy cashew chevre lunch prep
tangy cashew chevre lunch tartinesTartines for lunch, left to right: last night’s radish leaves and a pepper from the farmers’ market; radish leaves and chive blossoms; homegrown strawberries and mint.

 

Five minute miso cashew chèvre

§ § §

This reminds me of chèvre – delightfully tangy, with a hint of sweetness that is only detectable when you aren’t looking for it. It’s a soft cashew cheese, one that isn’t cultured that I like to make while I wait for my cultured cheeses to hurry up already. I make it in small batches in my mini Cuisinart, which has graced my many kitchens since 1995. I don’t bother soaking my cashews; it’s such a small amount that they turn to powder with just a few pulses of the blade. When Nina wants to get in on the action, I let her pulverize the cashews in a spice grinder – not necessary, but very gratifying. And truth be told, even faster than the food processor.

§ § §

1 cup raw cashew pieces
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon shiro miso
2 tablespoons water

Add your cashews to the food processor and blitz until powdered. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Add additional water if necessary – you want the texture to be similar to whipped cream cheese. Will keep in the refrigerator for a week or so.

Prep time: 5 minutes | Yield: about 1 cup

Garden update + our house toast

Garden
So, when the rain came in and drowned a bunch of our plants back in June and July, Nina and I decided to start a bunch of new plants, knowing they might not grow at all, and they certainly wouldn’t get big enough to flower. Then this happened.

eggplant.bloomIt only took seven weeks, but my eggplants bloomed!
Thai.peppersSame goes for this Thai chili pepper.
oh pumpkins.too little too late!Don’t get me started on these pumpkins. At least they survived the squash borer infestation. . .

Now we’re boo hoo hooing that these plants are in bloom, but will probably not have time to fruit. We knew this might happen, but still. It feels so unfair! (Excuse me while I play my tiny violin of self-pity.) Of course, my freakshow watermelon patch has taken over our property.

watermelon.invastionEven the chickens are spooked because the vines are spreading so fast. Good to know global warming is good for something.

There were also some rosemary shenanigans, but I’ll save that for another garden update.

Toast
This weekend, Nina came down with the annual back-to-school virus. Because of course we had a jam-packed weekend. A long overdue museum visit, a birthday party, shoe shopping, fancy cookie recipes and maybe a pie. None of it happened.

Here are the highlights of our weekend of forced relaxation: big bowls of simple chickpeas simmered with garlic and fresh bay leaves; elbow macaroni smothered in nutchy sauces; apples dipped in homemade maple sunbutter; baby watermelons. We’ll do anything to halt the invasion. Basically, a lot of comfort eating. We watched Short Circuit. (A good thing; Nina loved it.) My attempts to show her Super 8 were foiled. (Also a good thing; it would have scared the bejeezus out of her.) I finally read Joyland, cover to cover. (Loved it.)

baby.hybrid.watermelonWe planted seed we saved ourselves and ended up with some hybrids.
hybrid.wedgeReally wishing I’d kept track of which two varieties produced this melon.

There was also a lot of toast. This toast, a couple of times a day. If we were a restaurant, this would be our house toast.

TOAST!coconut.cinnamon.sugarCoconut, turbinado sugar and cinnamon.

Select your favorite toasting bread. Lightly spread each slice with coconut oil. Sprinkle liberally with a pinch of turbinado sugar. Dust with cinnamon. Broil until fragrant and toasty.

Kitchen garden + a really small batch pear butter recipe

 

 

 

purslane Gargoyles-eye-viewThis summer, Nina tried her hand at potting up herbs and ornamentals. Over a dozen pots are scattered in and around our kitchen garden, transforming it into our new happy place. // Gargoyle’s eye view.
lunchOn weekends, she’ll pack herself a lunch and hang out on the steps, hoping to catch a blue-tailed skink.
purple.peppersThere is a baby skink curled up in this pot, under the doreanthus!
white.pepper.sage.pearbutter
Every time I make this it turns out a different color. This batch was a pale gold.

Sage and white pepper-infused pear butter

§ § §

You’ll want enough chopped pears to fill your slow cooker one-half to three-quarters of the way up; four or five pears are a perfect fit for my 2-quart slow cooker. When I make this for my family, I just tuck the sage and peppercorns into the pot and strain them out later. (Or not – the peppercorns are really pretty when the sink to the bottom of a jar.) If I’m making it as a gift, I bundle them in muslin or gauze. Also, I think rosemary (with the pepper) or lavender (without) would taste wonderful in place of the sage.

§ § §

4-5 pears, any variety
juice of 1 lemon wedge
3-4 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon white or mixed peppercorns, or 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon muscovado or dark brown sugar

Peel, core and chop your pears. Add the chopped pears into the slow cooker, squeeze a wedge of lemon over the top, tuck your sage and peppercorns in the middle and sprinkle your sugar over it all. Set the slow cooker to low and cover. Check every thirty minutes or so, smashing the pears around with a wooden spoon as they soften. When your pears have the consistency of applesauce, vent the lid and continue cooking until thickened, stirring every so often to prevent sticking or scorching. When the pears are done cooking, allow them to cool for 15 minutes before you strain and transfer to glass jars.

Yield: 1 Cup

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 2-5 hours, depending on your slow cooker

It’s been a busy summer.

Hoosier_campsite

Cubs

We camped our way to the Upper Peninsula, stopping in Chicago to catch a Cubs game before spending nearly two weeks on lake Superior.

killdeer_nest

wave_jumper

There was a bear cub sighting, a killdeer nest, and ten straight days of sand and sun.

kitchengarden

moonandstars

pattypan

zucchiniWe returned home to find out it rained every single day we were out of town. My kitchen garden? Completely overrun with basil and shiso. My vine garden? Completely overrun with melons. Even my zucchini and patty pan plants survived, despite the annual squash bug plague.

pearsPears are in season. Tip of the iceberg. I suspect a few pear recipes may make an appearance once I get out from under these knobbly green pomes.

blueberry_oatshakeThe past five years we forgot to net our blueberry bushes, which made the local deer happy. This summer we finally got around to it, and have been picking berries every day for over a month. Most of them go straight into Nina’s mouth; any stragglers she leaves behind make it into the kitchen. She has recently declared herself a superhero-in-training*, and we came up with this shake to keep her healthy and strong.

Blueberry superhero oatshake

§ § §

This is more milkshake than smoothie, packed with all manner of things a growing superhero needs (…antioxidants, protein, fiber…). An equal amount of rolled or steel cut oats can be substituted for the groats, and 2 tablespoons cashew or peanut butter can be substituted for the raw cashews. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, there will be little flecks of oats and cashews in your shake. To avoid this, simply pre-grind the cashews and oats to a powder with a burr grinder before blending with the rest of the ingredients. I often combine everything in a large mason jar and pop it in the refrigerator before I go to bed, then blend it right in the jar with my immersion blender in the morning.

§ § §

1 large handful fresh blueberries
1 small handful baby spinach
1/2 Cup sprouted oat groats
1/4 Cup raw cashews
1/2 to 1 Cup almond milk
1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses

Blend until smooth, starting with 1/2 Cup milk and adding more if needed to reach desired consistency.

Yield: 1 superhero or 2 mortal servings

Prep time: 5 minutes

*Awesome Girl. Is anyone even a little bit surprised?