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Archive for the ‘Summer’ Category

While I wait for my next trip to the store or CSA or farmer’s market I was craving some green stuff for my morning smoothie.

I tend to hide things from myself, the motivation is to “save it for later”. Works well with special candy bars my parents smuggle down to Texas from Canada. Coffee Crisp bars are one of my favorites, I would arm wrestle you for one. Probably cheat by distracting you somehow just to get my mits on one of those puppies. Hiding kale from myself, in the save it for a rainy day fashion, now sounds incredibly weird when put next to chocolate. It came in handy this morning though! I tried making my own kale chips with a beautiful bunch that came in my Greenling box a while ago. I bagged up the leftovers and burried them in the freezer. It’s probably been two months, maybe more, that those kale chips sat waiting for someone to rescue them.

Have you ever seen the “Will it Blend?” series on YouTube? This is by no means an experiment of radical blending of random items. I do write with purpose (mostly), ha ha. Well, give that guy a bag of kale chips and see what happens. I can tell you that the results of a smoothie containing dried plant matter are not that appealing. Besides having large bits of kale in my breakfast smoothie, the flavor of nutty toasted kale threw me off. It was edible but I’m calling it a kitchen experiment failure.

I’d like to make this with fresh kale.

kale blueberry smoothie

The combination used here was:

  • half of a banana
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice, maybe more if too thick
  • heaping cup of blueberries
  • handful of kale (use fresh for heaven’s sake)

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  • 12 – 16 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • pepper to taste

Combine everything except the balsamic vinegar in a container with a lid or resealable zip top bag resting in a bowl or casserole dish.  Marinade overnight in the refrigerator, turning to coat a few times.

Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.

Line a roasting pan with foil.  Pluck the chicken drumsticks from the marinade and place in a single layer in the lined pan.  Roast for 1 hour.

While the chicken is in the oven, strain the marinade into a small pot.  Add the balsamic vinegar and bring to a simmer.  Reduce to a thick syrupy glaze.  Remove the chicken roasting pan from the oven and brush the glaze over the chicken.  Return the pan to the oven for another 20 minutes or until done.

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chop drop soup

This is not so much a recipe as it is a map or method to creating soul satisfying soup in five easy steps.  Let your imagination go wild, with the blessing of your taste buds of course.  Soups are a perfect way to use seasonal veggies that you may find at your local farmers market.  Say there is an unusual squash on the table, ask the grower if it is hard, bitter, sweet, or soft?  Bitter squash is not the best candidate for soups, at least in my view, so I avoid those.  Zucchini is about as bitter as I will go.  Give chop and drop a try!

Step 1

Empty the veggie drawer into the (clean) kitchen sink or counter.  Wash all skin-stay-on veggies.

Step 2

Peel and trim veggies.  Chop into manageable pieces.  Hint: the smaller the dice the hastier it cooks!

Step 3

Drop into a soup pot with a swirl of olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Stir.

Step 4

Add liquids.  Choose your favorite stock, broth, bouillon, OXO, Knorr, or even tomato puree, or can of cream of whatever plus milk.

Step 5

Wait.  Poke the veggies to see if they are tender. Heck, you could even taste one or two.

You are ready to eat!

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Taco Salad

Want to skip the crunchy carbs of taco night?  Make a salad instead!

Chop up your favorite lettuce.  Make a fresh “salsa” out of diced tomato, onion (red or white, or green yum) and peppers.  Cook ground meat with taco seasoning or combine chili powder, garlic, oregano, cumin and salt.  To make it vegetarian, you could use beans instead of the meat or diced Portobello mushroom caps.  Hey that actually sounds pretty tasty!  Top with shredded cheese.

Funny tidbit for you:  the most popular search on my blog remains at Claire Robinson, she has many fans including yours truly!

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Prickly Pear, also called tuna, is the fruit of the Opuntia ficus-indica cactus.  You can see it growing on the roadsides in South Texas and other areas of the South through to Mexico.  I don’t recommend picking them by the road, instead find them at the grocery store or possibly at local farmer’s markets.  There are spines on the fruit just like the green pads of the cactus, be careful that these have been removed before handling the fruit.

I cut open the fruit and scraped out the seeded pulp.  Then I squished the pulp to release the juice in a fine mesh strainer.

Strain the pulp twice to get a juice that is clear and sweet.  I didn’t have any alcohol to make a prickly pear potations true to the name, but you could certainly try adding a shot of tequila or vodka over ice.  I added watermelon juice prepared in the same way using my fine mesh strainer.

The cactus fruit tastes sweet and succulent, a little grassy too.  It’s a different but refreshing drink for summer.

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  • 3 butterflied chicken breasts
  • soy sauce
  • orange marmalade
  • honey

Mix the marinade in a bag, use equal parts soy to marmalade and about 3 tablespoons of honey.

Marinade the chicken in a bag in a spill proof container in the fridge for 24 hours.

Drain the chicken and BBQ over medium hot coals until done.

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My colleagues asked me to join them for Cheese Steak Thursday at Delaware, I declined with a mouthful of this salad….

  • Red lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Orange Bell Pepper
  • Garden Tomato
  • Garlic Naan “croutons”
  • Sweet Onion Dressing

The lure of cheese is sometimes overwhelming.  However, I’m trying to eat less gluten to see if it helps my rosacea situation.  See that pie looking thing behind the plate of salad?  I’ll be writing about it as part of my review of Babycakes by Erin McKenna.  Stay tuned for it!

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Yeah, yeah.  I can hear your groans from here.  Poor Heather is stuck in the land of eternal summer, no snow in July, no blizzards in November.  I’ve been informed of the “heat wave” that hit Alberta with temperatures soaring to 35ºC.  So y’all know what I’m complaining about.

Salads are perfect while it’s too hot to attempt turning on a stove.

The first salad incorporates tomatoes from the green house.  A hint of arugula spices up red lettuce and spinach.  Threw some roasted chicken breast for protein.  Creamy Caesar dressing to top it all off.

The second salad can be done on the grill or on the stove.  It’s really a toss-up for me: get a sunburn while cooking outside or heat up the house a little and crank up the fans.  I decided to save my skin this time and used a grill pan on the stove.  While I was assembling this salad, I had the jar of home-made dressing in one hand and tongs in the other.  I decided to give the dressing one more shake to mix it up again just before adding some to the zucchini and shallots in a bowl.  The lid was loose.  Dressing went everywhere!  The kids asked me what happened and all that came out was “Mommy made a BIG mess!”

Prawn Summer Salad

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 small shallot, sliced
  • handful or so of greens (arugula, spinach, lettuce)
  • 1 zucchini, peeled with a veggie peeler to make ribbons
  • 2-3 prawns, heads on and all, rinsed
  • Ponzu dressing (1 part Ponzu + 1 part agave nectar + 1 part lemon juice + 3 parts good olive oil + red chili flakes)

Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan, if you left the pan to pre-heat you might burn the pine nuts!  Just a word of caution for you.  Set the lightly toasted pine nuts aside.  Add a little olive oil to the pan and grill the pepper and shallot.  Meanwhile, put the lettuce(s) on the plate.  You can briefly grill the zucchini, if it’s a baby and tender it doesn’t need to be cooked at all.  Put the zucchini in a bowl and add the peppers and shallot. Grill the prawns until they are pink on both sides and curl into a C-shape.  A couple of minutes per side.  While the prawns cook, pour the parts of the Ponzu dressing in a narrow jar, put the lid on tightly and shake to emulsify.  Pour some dressing into the bowl with the zucchini, peppers and shallot, toss to coat.  Pile the zucchini on the lettuce.  Rest the prawns on the pile.  Garnish with toasted pine nuts.  Additional dressing can be used from the jar, I like to leave it on the table during dinner.

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The jungle that is my garden, has gone from mildly unruly to devouring every inch inside the green house.  After a solid week of rain followed by hot clear days, there is quite a difference.

Green House busting at the seams

The melons won’t stay inside either.  That vine on the outside found itself too cramped with the others (sorry guys, I over seeded!)  Being the worry wort that I am, plus last summer’s drought and subsequent total crop failure, I planted three seeds per hill and refused to thin them out.  Same story for the lot at the south end of the yard.

South Patch doing pretty good exposed to the elements

As I poked around in the morning, I found another melon nearly full size.  That brings the total to ten actual melons!  There are more babies in the green house and south patch is starting to convert blooms to fruit.  South patch was planted about three weeks after the green house seeds (I was worried the first batch wouldn’t produce anything).

I will be overrun with orange cantaloupes by the end of summer.  Agua fresca anyone?  Suppose they will be handy when summer just.won’t.end. we will be rolling in melons.  In the meantime, I’ll be babysitting the younglings and checking the bigger melons regularly.

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Texas was nearly burned to a crisp last summer.  I’m trying to find the total count of the days when Mother Nature found it suitable to crank the temperature over 100 degrees.  As of August 24th, we were at 70 days, the time at which the 86 year-old record was broken.  I think it was 86 days all told.

Today all that hot mess is a memory.  It’s been raining. A lot.

Strange how such a scorching cycle is followed by a wet one.  I’ll take every drop of rain that is willing to fall from the heavens, my garden needs it.  Heck, we all need it!

To gleefully accept the rain, and the accompanying thunder and lightning, I made a broccoli cheese soup and apple pie.  The soup was inspired by Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman), I added ham, potato, and Asiago cheese to the basic recipe.

The pie was made with granny smith apples, peeled and sliced with my old-fashioned apple peeler.  Brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, flour and tapioca flour joined the apples between two layers of dough.  Don’t forget the cover the edges with foil!

I wish you could smell my house this blustery evening!  Big Brother wanted apple pie and today was a perfect day for his request.  We shared a slice and scurried off to sleep.

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