Friday, July 30, 2010

Patacones!!




PATACONES
  -made with green plantains - if they have gotten yellow & spotty, they will not stand up to this treatment!










Heat about an inch depth grapeseed or peanut oil in a deep skillet.

Slice 4-5 green plantains into about 1 1/2" chunks, and then remove the peel.

Fry the plantain chunks until lightly golden, drain on paper towels.

When a bit cooler, take a heavy pot and squash the plantains  flat (they look like "large paws" -patacones-) and dip them (do not soak them!) into a bowl of salted water  (about 2c. water and a tbs. or so of sea salt) then carefully place them in the hot oil and fry again until crispy brown!

Top patacones with guacamole and fresh salsa, or a garlic/mayonaise combination- they are a great alternative to chips and crackers. Best when eaten hot!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Precious Pikle-It


Now that we have finished running about between Missoula and Portland like bees buzzing between flowers, I can tell you all about my favorite kitchen "gadget" this year..... the Pickl-It from the wonderful People at Pickl-It.
I got a set for myself and my sister-in-law, - since we both are fermenting fiends.

A few years ago, I had gotten a Harsch Gairtopf crock (see earlier posts regarding sauerkraut making) because I was tired of skimming my 'kraut. Essentially, I love kitchen science, but I'm even more enamored of  accomplishing kitchen crafts with less oversight! The Harsch crock has a wonderful "burping lid" water lock system that allows you to leave your crock unattended for several days at a time while the fermentation beasties work in a safe environment. My Harsch crock is in almost constant use, and I would never give it up.

But there were still times when I wanted something smaller....for those tiny baby carrots, or the 3 small heads of garden fresh bok choy, or even just one quart of baby dills.
Here's Jon's approved 5-Star concoction:

Ginger Stuffed Baby Cucumbers
      adapted from The Joy of Pickling


Start with about 7-8 baby cucumbers, about 4-5" long.
Slice them, long-wise, not quite all the way through, 2-3 times on each cuke, and sprinkle a bit of sea salt along the insides of the cuts. Set them in a bowl containing 3 c. filtered water with 7 1/2 tsp. sea salt dissolved in it. Let them sit in there, at room temperature, for about 2-3 hours.

When you are ready to stuff the cucumbers, place the following in a shallow bowl (future "stuffing"):
     1  daikon radish & 1 med. carrot, sliced into matchsticks   about 1 1/2" long
     6 scallions, sliced lengthwise and slivered
     2-3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
    fresh ginger sliced into matchsticks in volume about equal to the carrots and daikon
Sprinkle these with another tsp. of salt and a tsp. or so of cayenne pepper flakes.

Drain the cukes, and reserve the brine. gently open cucumber and carefully stuff an assortment of matchsticks and slices in each of the cucumber cavities. Place the remainder of any stuffing in a bowl, and place the full cukes on top. Cover with a tea towel and let stand overnight or about 8-10 hours.

Finally, pack the stuffed cucumbers into the 1.5 ltr Pickl-it, sprinkle any remaining "stuffing" around them, cover with the reserved brine, place the weight on top to keep things submerged, attach the (water-filled) air-lock, and let stand at room temperature for 2-3 days before refrigerating.

The Pickl-it air-lock can be removed and a tiny rubber plug inserted in the hole, so that storage in the fridge is easy and not cumbersome.

These were a hit as our Fourth of July pot-luck contribution - we served them cut into about 1" chunks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rhubarb-a-Ritas!!!

We have a Rhubarb plant...
Every spring, we get at least three large harvests from our wonderful pie-plant!
This year, i thought we could do something beyond pies or crisps or stewed toppings for ice-cream.

  So I chopped up about 8 stalks and simmered it in a simple syrup concoction (1 part sugar to 2 parts water - this batch used 4 cups of sugar and 8 cups water). Simmer this until the rhubarb seems to have fallen apart and is just a globby bit of green. 
Strain the syrup from the rhubarb bits and bottle. 
.
We got about 3 liters (see the discombobulated rhubarb remains behind the bottles?)

Jon made "Rubarb-A-Ritas"
2 double shots of tequila, a cup of the rhubarb syrup, and enough ice to cover the liquid in the blender. 
WHIRRRRRRR
Pour into a martini glass, rimmed with sea salt and garnish with a lemon slice. 

Kids will like their rhubarb syrup mixed with some soda water (Rhubarb Soda Pop!) or in their lemonade :-)



Sunday, May 9, 2010

greens and grains and good things to read!

First, the camera I have known and loved for 4 years decided to come down with photographic-parkinsons, and then we were incredibly deluged with Missoula Community Chorus responsibilities : Hiring a new Chorus Manager (Andy Morris - he's great!), then interviewing, auditioning, and hiring a new Conductor (Tod Trimble - he is going to take us far!!) and then it was time for our Spring Concert - and whew! So, Dear Jon helped me get a new camera - "just like" the old one, but with up-grades. It is going to take a while before I figure it out.... the whole back is a touch screen - so about every other picture, I  inadvertently change settings....

I also recently acquired a lovely pair of GREEN Shoes  and a Kindle (note the extraordinarily beautiful green embossed leather cover!) that I just had to show off. Naturally, the shoes required a new pair of socks, and Spring Spirals came to mind....


For Gluten-free people, Injera is a great substitute for wrap breads that I used to use frequently for convenience....it is made with a sourdough-like starter, and of Teff flour. Teff is an amazing grain that looks like a tiny seed - from the lovegrass family - so, it's related to "Love-lies-Bleeding" that Victorian garden beauty, and Amaranth! With that lineage, who wouldn't want to eat it?!
My F-I-L gave me the starter- he has always been generous with his kitchen experiments - so rather than wait for 3-5 days, I was able to go forth and cook!
 Here's how to make Injera:
  • In a bowl, place 1/2 c. starter + about 1 1/2 c. teff flour + 2 c. water.  Stir it all nicely - it will look like thin pancake batter. Set aside , covered with a towel, and let it ferment for 2-4 hours.
  • When you are ready to cook, to the batter, add a pinch of salt if you like, and a crackle of pepper - or not :-)  Heat a flat bottomed griddle (the trusty 12" cast-iron seen here) over medium heat and add a drop or two of oil. 
  • Pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the skillet- lift it, and twirl so that the batter covers the whole bottom... it's not as thin as a crepe, so no worries.
  • Cook until holes (bubbles) form in the injera, the top is dried, and the edges brown. Do not flip it over- Injera is only cooked on one side (this is what gives it that spongy-soaks-up-flavors-of -everything texture!)
  • Remove, and cool.
My first one was so deformed, that I tossed it right out - again, sort of like cooking crepes! And Jon, being the international type that he is, decided to eat them with (home made) yoghert and applesauce and declared them "quite fine"
I cooked the remaining batter, setting aside 1/2 cup of batter to start my next batch (refrigerate, in a covered jar, and feed with 1/2 c teff flour + 1 c water every week or so) and simply separated the injeras with parchment paper and froze.

And here is how to create an Injera Starter:
  • Mix 1 1/2 c. teff flour + 2 c. water and let stand, in a bowl covered with a clean cloth, at room temperature until it bubbles and turns sour. About 3 days.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy April 15th!!

Tax Day! 2010!!
Enjoy this day - we may never have it this "good" again!!

  • 47 % of Americans will pay NO INCOME TAX at all on their 2009 earnings!
  • Tax-Freedom Day: US citizens only had to work until April 9th (99th day of the year, this year) 2010 to pay their "portion" of Income taxes for the year. After this date, everything you earn, you keep :-)
  • This is one day later than last year, but more than 2 WEEKS EARLIER than 2007, when Mr. G.W. Bush was fearlessly in charge.

 Here in Missoula, some of our neighbors are gathering in front of the federal building lying about their tax burden.
What do you think they are really angry about? (I have a few theories myself!)

Here's a sign my dear Jon made for us to wave back at them:








Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Catch Up

Where have I been? Chairing the Vintage on Broadway committee -  putting on the huge fundraiser for the Missoula Community Chorus! Successful this year- sold more tickets, had higher caliber Auction Items, food included an exquisite spam & olive spread on brown bread (our theme was 1940-1950 Golden Age of Broadway!), and this year's musical entertainment was polished and well-received!
WHEW!! We raised over $12,000 for the chorus - and then I went to bed for a few days :-)
Meanwhile, back in the spiritual realm, TeaParty Jesus has been giving people parables and questions to think about -
here's just one example.......


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Truly, madly, Peep-ly....

Spring has arrived... and with it the miracle of marshmallow Peeps

note: SHOCKING PICTURES!!
NUDITY ADVISORY!! DON'T LOOK IF YOU ARE A PEEP PRUDE!!!

Naked Peeps!!




Here are some of this years' Peep Diorama Winners from across the U.S.....
WE COME IN PEEPS










PEEPTOWN Bakery
and my favorite
PEEP-O-SUCTION!