Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blackberry Peach Crisp

So on Sunday evening after making pickles all day it was time to go out back and harvest the garden, we picked a ton of peas, green beans, and the wild blackberries that are worming their way over and through the fence.  With fresh blackberries and several peaches in the fruit bowl I decided it was that time of year to start making crisps, cobblers, and pies and every type of baked good that has fruit in it, so I decided on blackberry peach crisp.  I looked at several recipes and kind of combined them to create this recipe...and I will admit from the beginning that the top crunch layer was not thick enough because I used too much butter and not enough flour, so the recipe below adds additional flour to avoid what happened to my crisp.  I will say though that I easily fixed the need for crunchy goodness by sprinkling some honey-nut Cheerios over the top and yes it was very good!  So here is my first blackberry item of the season and hopefully not my last.

Serves 9ish

The Ingredients
2 full cups fresh blackberries
2 medium peaches, skinned and cut into cubes
2 tablespoons quick tapioca
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 lemon squeezed for juice
1/3 cup butter, room temp
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup old-fashion oats

The Process
1.  In medium bowl gently mix together blackberries, peaches, tapioca, white sugar, and lemon juice and set aside.

2.  In another medium bowl thoroughly mix together butter, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, and oats.

3.  Turn on oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a glass 9x9 pan.

4.  Pour in berry and peach mixture into baking dish and then crumble (in large chunks) the oat mixture over the top of the berries and peaches.  Put in oven for 25-30 minutes or until berry mixture is bubbling and the crisp on the top is slightly browning.

And don't forget yours will look better because I changed the recipe after my mistake...oh and why did I think I could just make up my own recipe when it's baking?! I never make pretty baked goods,they always taste good, but they are never pretty....well except for my blackberry pies...I should make that next!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pickle Fest 2011

That's right another very successful pickle fest!  Pickle fest = scrubbing, persevering, and transforming over 40lbs of cucumbers into pickles!  This is the 4th year now that I have participated in the "secret recipe group", it started with my mother, the original recipe creator, her daughter, and I.  Then the last two years have just been my mother and I, and then this year we added my aunt who just moved up to Portland from San Francisco and that is how the group will remain for a long long time.  My mother has been pickling with the recipe's creator for about 10 years now so she is the veteran and the only one who knows the secret recipe because she was sworn to secrecy by the creator.  These pickles are absolutely amazing! They are spicy dill pickles and my friends are continually begging for "just one more jar."  And the thing is I love the pickles so much too, but I might love sharing more...and these pickles are something to be proud of so why not share the love!  It was pretty amazing because this year it only took us a short 5 the past it normally takes the entire day, so we are obviously learning how to perfect the group members and process more each year.  I think my favorite part about the whole process is clipping and smelling the mass amounts of fresh dill...that smell mixed with the vinegar brine smell in the air just makes for a perfect pickle fest! SUCCESS! Now make sure and be nice to me and you may get some more pickles ;)

Monday, August 29, 2011


That's right, like one of my favorite movies!  I mean if you haven't seen ratatouille yet you really should, it's frickin' adorable!  Anyways I keep trying to explore the cooking world and cook dishes I have never made before and ratatouille is a classic that I felt had to be done.  It was (once again) inspired by all the fresh veggies I need to use up from the garden (and Katie's garden).  The recipe is slightly adapted from the recipe in my big and beautiful Gourmet Today cookbook, and I would recommend this recipe to anyone, it was absolutely delicious!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
2 small eggplants, chopped about 1-inch thick cubes
1 large zucchini, chopped about 1-inch thick cubes
1 large yellow squash, chopped about 1-inch thick cubes
3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped about 1-inch thick cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion or 2 little ones, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

The Process
1.  Take already chopped eggplant and place in a colander and put that in a bowl.  Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of salt over the top and toss and let sit for 1 hour (it gets some of the excess water out of the eggplant).

2.  After that hour rinse off the salt from the eggplant and then between paper towels press the eggplant chunks to squeeze out excess water.  Press them about 3 times, or until the eggplant chunks are fairly dry.

3.  Then take eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini and toss in a bowl with about 1 tablespoon of oil (maybe 2).  Then turn oven on to 500 degrees and place zucchini mixture (single layer) on a large cookie sheet.

4.  Sprinkle the mixture with salt and put in oven for about 30 minutes, but stirring or flipping mixture every 10 minutes.  When done take out of oven and let cool.

5.  In the mean time put about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large pot and heat over medium-high heat.  When hot add the onion, and turn heat down to medium-low heat.  Cook these for about 15-20 minutes stirring frequently; cook until they are soft and golden brown.

6.  Next add the garlic to the pot and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and thyme to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes (the tomatoes with start to get juicy).

7.  Next add the zucchini mixture to the pot and cook for about 5 more minutes or until everything in the pot is heated through.

8.  The very last step you take the pot of the stove and stir in the fresh basil and parsley, this is also the point when you add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!!! It pairs great with grilled chicken!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kale and Broth

Kale, oh how I love thee! It is one of my favorite vegetables because it is so hardy and green, not to mention the delectable flavor.  And what better thing to pair kale with than vegetable broth!  No this was no soup by any means, but have you tried cooking with broth? It is amazing, so full of flavor and very healthy and low fat.  Often times I pan fry pork chops in a little little oil and then pour in broth and cover and steam them, so much flavor is added to the meat it is insane, not to mention how juicy the pork chops stay.  Anyways so here is one of my many broth infused recipes, once again a simple and delicious side dish.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 large bunch of kale, chopped, (any kind you want, I used a more coarse kale)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups vegetable broth (better than bouillon is the best)
Olive oil
Ground black pepper (to taste, about a 1/2 teaspoon)

The Process
1.  In large skillet heat over medium-high, and add a little bit of olive oil.

2.  When skillet is hot add garlic and cook for about  30 seconds, then add kale.

3.  Stir kale around and add black pepper and cayenne pepper, and cook for about 1 minute.

4.  Add all of broth and stir and cover skillet, let cook for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally.

5.  Kale should be still pretty crunchy and fresh so depending on how hot your stove is adjust time or temperature.  And enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Official Graduation

That is right, I did it, I am officially a Master of Library Science, and damn it feels good.  Of course now it is onto the job search and it has been going quite well so far.  My options are expanding as my willingness to move is becoming greater.  I am currently willing to move to L.A., Oakland, New Orleans; Chicago, and maybe New Mexico.  This gives me so many more options than many of my classmates who are staying in Portland, and while I do love Portland it is time to spread my wings and live in a big city!  Anyways, after my graduation my parents threw a little post-grad party for me and family with many amazing appetizers and the most beautiful cake in the world.  The cake was the hummingbird cake that I made for my birthday, which was pretty but not as pretty as the one in the original recipe I my mom saw this as an opportunity to make the beautiful cake for me, just like in the original recipe.  So adorable and sweet of her! My mom is great.  So once again I finally graduated that I got the prettiest cake in the world! So here is a lovely picture of what was left of the cake, and a link to the recipe one more time. Hummingbird Cake

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Zucchini Yellow Squash and Basil

I hope everyone's gardens are as bountiful as Oregon's are right now, and I'm sure that the fresh ingredients from the garden helped to make this dish extra delightful!  While it is a VERY simple dish it is really nice and tame, with tasty flavors in perfect for hot summer days.  This was a side dish I created for a lovely steak and mushroom entree and yes it paired quite well.  So here it is!

Serves 4 (as a side dish)

The Ingredients
1 large yellow squash (or two little ones), sliced 
1 medium zucchini, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

The Process
 1.  In medium skillet heat olive oil over high heat (but not to the point that the oil will smoke), when hot add zucchini and yellow squash.

2.  Fry up zucchini and squash until golden brown, about five minutes.

3.  Then turn down heat to medium and add garlic, salt and pepper.  Cook for about 2 more minutes.

4.  Take skillet off heat and add in fresh basil, stir, and serve.

So simple and delicious.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Turmeric Pork

Pork chops or pork loin are often a part of my weekly meat intake and I always steam/fry them in broth or bake them...and while these two methods are bold and tasty I do love to try new recipes and change it up.  I was a little weary of the recipe I adapted from Eating Pleasure because it seemed very simplistic and I also know how strong of a spice turmeric is.  But paired with a side of sauteed yellow onions and mushrooms, and grilled zucchini a wonderfully flavorful balance was found.

Serves 3

The Ingredients
3 medium pork chops (pork loin chunks), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Olive oil (for pan)

The Process
1.  In medium bowl mix together sesame oil, soy sauce, turmeric, and pepper.  Add sliced pork chops and let marinate at least 20 minutes.

2.  When done marinating put medium skillet on stove over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil to pan and let heat up.  Then add pork and marinade and cook for about 6 minutes, or until done. Enjoy!

I will mention that when I make this recipe again I will try adding some crushed garlic to add a more complex flavor to the dish.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Elk Miso Burgers

I don't normally eat or create recipes with Elk but my parents push it on me, so I decided to make them dinner and be creative with what they had.  Elk is pretty good, and very lean I just really prefer beef, and I don't chose to eat meats in ground form often either.  I also am not a huge fan of burgers but I will say these turned out very well.  I adapted this recipe from Kokocooks in an attempt to try something new, I also don't normally love the sweet and savory but once again this was a great way to use up a lot of awkward food items in the house.

Serves 6

The Ingredients
For Burgers:
2lbs ground elk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger (from jar)
1 tablespoon red miso paste
3 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
olive oil (for pan)
6 burger buns

For Glaze:
1/2 tablespoon red miso paste
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon soy sauce

For Salsa:
1/2 cucumber peeled and cut into thin and small slices
1 mango, stone removed and cut into thin and small slices
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 tablespoon dried chili flakes
pinch of salt

The Process
1.  In a skillet, over medium-high heat add a little olive oil and when hot add yellow onion and ginger.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until onions are soft.

2.  In large bowl combine burger ingredients which is elk, miso, green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, and the cooked onion and ginger combination.  Mix well and form 6 patties with this mixture.

3.  Next in a small bowl mix together the glaze ingredients and set aside.

4.  Then onto the salsa, in medium bowl mix together all of the salsa ingredients and set aside.

5.  Grill burgers for about 5 minutes each side with the gas grill at MOM, which is medium off medium (these are the three nobs on the grill) or grill them however you like to grill your burgers.

6.  To assemble put burger on bun, then add glaze over burger, then salsa and eat!

Banchan Korean Spinach Dish

Another creative way to use the same old ingredients.  Koren food is one of my favorites so full of flavor and very much so on the healthy side.  I am continually trying to replicate Koren, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Thai...and I will honestly say there have many successes and quite a few failures as well.  I also was able to use spinach fresh from the garden so I am sure that added to the delightful taste of this dish.  I always forget how much spinach shrinks up this ended up being more of a small side dish, perhaps even a good appetizer.  This is the first new recipe I have made since grad school ended 4 days ago, and damn it feels good to be free!!!  I came up with this recipe after looking at multiple recipes on how to make Banchan, and all of them pretty much were the same.

Serves 2

The Ingredients
2 bunches fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 green onions, chopped
black sesame seeds (for garnish)

The Process
1.  In a small bowl mix together garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, and green onions (this is the dressing).

2.  Next in large pot bring water to boil, when boiling add the 2 bunches of spinach and blanch for 30 seconds.

3.  After 30 seconds pour spinach into a strainer and pat and press with paper towels until spinach is relatively dry.

4.  To serve bunch about a 1/2 cup size on plate, dress with dressing, and garnish with black sesame seeds.

So tasty and healthy!