I recently bought a half gallon of cream. After waiting for two hours to get into Costco, I swore I would never come again. I started tossing things in my cart as if money were not an issue, because I sure wasn't going back. Normally I buy cream by the pint, but after two hours of freezing my butt off like one of the sheep-le, (rhymes with people), I was determined to make this trip count. And that's how I ended up purchasing a tremendously inappropriate amount of cream for four people.
It felt like insanity at the time, but a week and a half has gone by and the verdict is out. It actually feels very freeing, and I recommend it. Mashed potatoes? No problem. Homemade ice cream? Coming up. Ten pounds of weight gain? Effortless. Like I said, it's freeing. Try it once if you are crazy enough to wait to get into Costco.
This time of year the strawberries at the local farmers market are the best they can get. Sweet, fresh, and drool-worthy. I bought a half-flat yesterday, which is clearly too much for four people to eat in one day. You can keep strawberries for a while, but the flavor the day I buy them is the best. I made chocolate dipped strawberries, strawberry-orange fruit salad, and strawberries and cream popsicles. You'll love them too.
Don't feel like you need to measure anything, I'm only giving you a basic guideline. It's impossible to mess up three ingredients like these.
2 baskets of strawberries
1 cup cream
1/4 cup honey
Blend the strawberries, cream, and honey in the bowl of a food processor. Pour it into popsicle molds and freeze. Or you can just drink it.
This has a beautiful, refreshing flavor that is better than the sum of its parts.
I never would have thought of this myself, but years ago I received a variation of this recipe from a weekly subscription service. I've lost the original ratios, but like all smoothies, you can't really go wrong.
This has to be started the night before, so when you know temperatures are rising, peel a few oranges and leave them in the freezer for the next day. I keep them in a freezer bag. If I'm feeling motivated I separate them into sections, but if I'm tired I just divide them in half. The more pith you remove, the better, but don't go crazy.
1-1/2 frozen oranges either divided into sections or sliced
milk to just cover
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon honey
Put the orange sections into the blender and just barely cover with milk. Add in a few drops of vanilla and the honey, and then blend until it looks like soft ice cream. Leftovers are not great, so drink up!
My garden may be the only thing to really benefit from the shelter-at-home order this last month, but they say every cloud has a silver lining. I've had the opportunity to see what just six weeks in the garden can do, and I thought I'd post it here to remind me of the beauty of spring when winter comes.
My garden also endured six weeks of lockdown- between the birds and the gophers, I wasn't taking any chances! But the birds leave in April and so the netting came off today. Below you see the first two beds I replanted. The one on the right has some seedlings I had started, a few transplants from the hardware store, and cabbage that had miraculously survived the moles. Or gophers, whatever.
On the left I have beets that were in a pot in the greenhouse- transplanting them nearly killed them- and more seedlings. I thought I was pretty generous with the spacing, but it's all pretty tight after all. I included poppies and calendula because I like the idea of growing flowers right in with the vegetables.
This is Red Beauty Radish from Baker Creek Seeds. I haven't grown this variety of radish and I'm hoping they'll taste good in salads. I realize I took the picture on the right from close up, but I think you can still tell that the radish filled out quite a bit in only 6 days! Same with the broccoli below.
Below you can see what my garden looks like today, a little over a month later. We've had lots of radishes, lettuce, swiss chard, beet greens, and perpetual spinach this month. Lots of mustard greens too. The carrots are coming in well, and today I pulled all the beets to put in mini white cucumbers.
We put in a potato patch with onions and an experimental spot for zucchini and squash. It's safe from chickens, but not moles, so we'll see. The box with potatoes and onions is filled 100% with compost from the chicken area, and the squash are planted in goat compost. We'll see how they all do. There's a tree that shades some of it, but we hacked it back and the area seems to get pretty good light after all. This is my first time growing onions from starts. In the empty box I plan to put sweet corn. The far box in the picture is where my daughter wants to grow blue popcorn. I want her to garden, but I also want to get my plants in the ground. If she wasn't a natural born negotiator she would have lost her garden space five times already.
We put in a tomato bed as well. The side closest to the camera is where I grow cucumbers every year. I stick with a Japanese variety I love. I put in some marigold for looks, some lettuce to grow under the tomato, and three peppers because I needed a place to squeeze them in. I planted a jalapeño and two Pizza-My-Heart peppers from Renee's Garden. Within the week I should be able to plant to rest of my peppers.
My obsession with nasturtiums remains an obsession. I planted a new mix this year. Bloody Mary Mix- it's adding some new colors.
I also continue to grow calendula. Nothing seems to beat homegrown calendula for use in an infused oil. I planted a darker orange variety this year along with the usual volunteers.
Today's smoothie was supposed to be an orange cream theme, but someone ate the frozen orange sections I've been saving! So strawberries are good too.
I know it's unforgivable to post something without exact amounts, but does anyone really measure for a smoothie anyway?
So into your blender put as many frozen strawberries as you have or want, whichever is your limiting factor. Cover with milk. Add a pinch of nutmeg per person and maybe a triple pinch of cinnamon per person. 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla per person, and a jigger of maple syrup. I don't know what a jigger is either, but it's ok, start small and once you blend it you can add more to taste. Cold things never taste as sweet, so you may end up adding a little more than you expected.
We like this to taste like it's bursting with strawberries, but just a hint of pie in the background.
I was out wandering the streets when I first learned the apocalypse was upon us. (I was at the farmer’s market.) In my haste and greed I bought two heads of cabbage, and pretty much everything else I could see. We are still eating much of what I bought in that shopping frenzy, and we’re almost through it! Good times.
No one was enthused to hear I was making stuffed cabbage rolls, but we had a lot of cabbage to eat. These were so good my daughter asked if there were leftovers she could have for breakfast. We INHALED them with as much class and good taste as we could muster.
Traditionally they’re stuffed with a mixture of meat and rice, but I don’t love meat and rice cooked together, so I borrowed from meatball recipes the world over and used some bread crumbs instead. Topped with a little parmesan cheese, we barbarians were so happy.
This isn’t a recipe that needs to be followed exactly. Probably the only non-negotiables are the tomatoes, the meat, and the cabbage. You can use all pork, or all beef, but if you’re feeling wishy-washy on the subject, I recommend pork.
1- 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 onion, diced
1/3-1/2 cup breadcrumbs (obviously I didn’t measure, sorry!)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Parmesan cheese to serve
1. Make the tomato sauce first. Puree the canned tomatoes. In a skillet, Heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic. Toss in the tomatoes after the garlic starts to smell great but before it has a chance to burn. Add the cayenne. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes, and then season it with salt and pepper.
2. Make the meat filling. Mix together the ground meat, onion, breadcrumbs, parsley, paprika, salt, and cinnamon. Take a little scoop out and fry it in a pan or microwave it so that you can taste it for seasoning, then adjust it as needed. Set it aside.
3. Boil the cabbage leaves. Heat a big pot of water to a boil and put the cabbage in. When the outer leaves look like they’ve softened enough to be pliable, take the cabbage out and cut the outer leaves off. Return the cabbage to the water and keep peeling leaves off. I burned my fingers a bit at this point, but you’ve been warned. I don’t know exactly how many leaves you’ll need, but you can always use leftovers for something else. At the base of each leaf the rib get’s a little too thick and fibrous, so trim that off too make it easier to roll now and easier to chew later.
4. How much meat filling you use per leaf depends on the size of the leaf, but if you’ve ever rolled a burrito, it’s the same principle. Fold the sides in, and roll it up. Put the rolls, seam side down, in a baking dish. When you’re done, top it with the tomato sauce and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the pan with parchment paper and then a layer of aluminum foil and bake for an hour.
We served ours with sweet potatoes fries and a salad. The plan was for potatoes au gratin, but those didn’t finish cooking until an hour after dinner! I could plan better.
I’ve never tasted a tangerine baked into a cake before, but it is surprisingly refreshing and sunshiny. The bits of cake around the tangerine are almost custardy, but the tangerine itself tastes a little like a peach. That’s some great winter cheer!
The farmer’s markets are loaded with tangerines right now. We bought a few bags of them and then ended up drowning in them, so I was super excited to find a video on YouTube showing a cake with them. It seems like there aren’t very many recipes for cooking or preserving citrus if you end up with a glut. Here is the original video.
It makes sense to me that in warm regions (other than California) there should be a history of preservation and cooking with citrus, but I can’t find my Persian cookbook anywhere. The hunt continues. In this culture, orange marmalade seems to be the peak of our creativity.
But this cake is really delicious! I tested enough of it to know. So I certainly recommend you watch the video, but here are my notes as well since the lovely Layla Jawad doesn’t use very specific amounts. I think this is great because clearly it’s hard to mess this up, but I did mess it up a bit myself.
Also, since this is basically a quick bread, I think the results are more reliable if you mix the wet and dry ingredients separately before mixing them together.
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar (I used brown)
1 cup of butter, room temperature and cubed, plus a little extra to grease the pan
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
the zest and juice from one orange
seedless tangerines, peeled and as much pith removed as you can
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 9-inch cake pans or 1 9x13 pan
1. Butter your pan(s) and line with parchment paper if you’re using the cake pans. Butter the parchment paper as well if you’re using it. Sprinkle some sugar over the bottom of the pan(s). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In one bowl, blend together the eggs, milk, sugar, butter, vanilla, and the zest and juice from the one orange. I used a hand mixer. In another bowl, blend together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda with a whisk.
3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in several additions and blend them to combine. Your batter is ready.
4. Place the mysterious and unspecified number of tangerines in your buttered baking dish, but don’t crowd them too much like I did or it won’t cook through. Pour the batter over the top and spread it a little, then bake for 40-45 minutes.
So are you curious yet as to how I could have messed this up? First, the butter should be room temperature. Second, I crowded my pans with too many tangerines. Leave some space between them! This resulted in doughy spots around the tangerines which you couldn't see until the cake was inverted.
Then I tried to fix one under the broiler, and it burned. The second one I put in the microwave and it finished cooking just fine. Whew!
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!