A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pizza, everyday, everyway.

Bread baking was my first kitchen love.  I no longer make bread as often as I used to, but I have been making pizza dough frequently -- a close bread cousin.  I like to make enough for six 14-inch pizzas and freeze the dough.  Sometimes the dough doesn't make it into the freezer and we eat pizza all week, or sometimes all six pizzas get made in one night, with 12 people reaching for slices.  Preparing pizza toppings can be time consuming.  I like to make toppings that go well with lots of things: salads, omelets or frittata, in soup.  Or I save small bits of other recipes during the week prior to pizza making that will be good toppings.  Examples include roasted root veggies, cut-up peppers or squash, stir fries, cooked meats, part of a cucumber, pear, avocado, etc. Sometimes I have 10 little bowls of things in the fridge, but they all get used up during the week in various recipes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brunch cocktails

Oro blanco grapefruit
Brunch is one of my favorite meals.  I love that I can sleep in and not be late.  I can choose breakfast-y or lunch-y.  AND -- It's not too early to have a cocktail.  The Mimosa and Bloody Mary are go-tos with my normal brunch crowd.   It was time to branch out, especially if it meant I could utilize ingredients that I have in abundance.  This past week I had piles of lemon verbena branches from pruning this lovely-smelling herb.  I also had hundreds of pounds of citrus -- specifically grapefruit.  I'll be contending with the citrus for days (months? years?) to come, thanks to Bill's trees.   Ok -- challenge of the week:  brunch cocktails that feature lemon verbena and citrus (grapefruit!).  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oatmeal makes you happy.

When I would call my mother during college upset about...well, anything... she would always, without fail, recommend I go eat a bowl of oatmeal.  She had read about how oatmeal's natural, healthful properties improve mood.  I gave it a try.  And I believe it.  As a whole grain, complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index, it increases energy without leaving you with an energy crash afterward.  There are also all the other things oatmeal is touted for:  reducing cholesterol and the chance of heart disease, fighting off cancer with a whole lot of  phytochemicals, packing in all that valuable soluble and insoluble fiber.  What's not to be happy about?

What other great things can we say about oatmeal?  How about that it's easy to turn it into delicious GRANOLA?  Yay!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Harvesting Mandarins from Bill's tree
Bill has 6 citrus trees in his backyard.  I didn't know this when we started dating, so you know I didn't date him just for his fruit trees. But those trees sure are a perk (in addition to Bill's kindness, generosity, humor, good looks and latte-making prowess).  The trees fruit prolifically -- the oranges and lemons seem to have fruit all year.

With some time off for the holidays, it was the perfect time to pick fruit and make jam.  Marmalade, specifically.  I didn't used to like marmalade.  I didn't even think I liked it the first time I made it... but I'm a sucker for trying something new and now homemade marmalade is my preferred jam.  It's excellent on a thickly sliced crusty piece of sourdough toast.  It also goes well on top of French toast.  Mix it with fresh, grated horseradish or ginger (or just plain!) for a glaze for meat or tofu.   I assume others will like it as much as I now do, and tend to give it as gifts all year long.  Wedding? Marmalade.  Birthday?  Marmalade.  Christmas?  Marmalade.  Not only is it delicious and easy to make, but it looks so beautifully golden and glimmering in glass jars, with just enough light shining through. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Persimmon Tree

Down the street from one of the schools where I work there is a lot for sale. It is about a half acre, locked down with several fences -- a broken wooden one and a 8-foot chain link one. Sometimes there is a big dog inside the fence, too. There is nothing on the lot except a persimmon tree. A beautiful, old, leaning Hachiya persimmon tree. Since the first frost, the persimmon tree is bare of leaves which makes the hundreds of bright orange, heart-shaped fruits stand out against the sky and the otherwise stark lot. I drive by this tree nearly every day, wondering how I might get in and harvest the tree. (What on earth I would do if I had all that fruit?) Well, luckily I work with some great people, with great ideas. A quick call to the phone number posted on the For Sale sign and several of us persimmon-tree gawkers found ourselves on the other side of the fences. An hour later we were several hundred of pounds of persimmons heavier. We donated several bags, but were still left with much persimmon poundage. Time to pull out the dehydrator, freezer bags and muffin tins!