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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Gazpacho

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Gazpacho

I love tomatoes.  I have four tomato plants currently going (though some animals keep eating my big tomatoes!).  I like tomatoes raw, cooked, roasted, etc.  So, now that it’s the start of tomato season, I’ve been going a little nuts.  I’m throwing tomatoes in my salads, making tomato sandwiches, and now I’ve made soup.  But not just any soup, I’ve made gazpacho.  What’s great about gazpacho is that it’s SUPER easy, super delicious, and is naturally vegetarian/vegan.  I’ve never made my own gazpacho before as I thought it was hard, but as long as you have a food processor, your work is done for you.  After searching through recipes that used ingredients like sherry, bread, and some others, I found one by Ina Garten that is both simple and looked great.

I actually don’t like bell peppers, so I switched those out for some pickled jalapenos.  I preferred the bite from my recipe, but feel free to change the recipe back to bell peppers or to use both in yours.

Gazpacho

  • 1 large cucumber, can be peeled completely or done as stripes and de-seeded

    Ingredients

  • 2.5 medium sized tomatoes or about 4 roma tomatoes diced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 of a yellow onion diced
  • 2 to 4 cloves of garlic (I used 3, though 1 was pickled)
  • 1 pickled jalapeno
  • 3 cups tomato or vegetable juice (low-sodium is fine)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (either white or red)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

I decided to only do stripes for the peel on the cucumber.  Cut the cucumber in half, de-seed, and then roughly chop the cucumber.  Roughly chop the onion and the garlic as well.

Chopped cucumber, onion, and garlic

Place the three veggies in a food processor and pulse chop the veggies.

Cukes in processor

DO NOT OVER PROCESS the vegetables.

Processed cukes

Place the processed veggies into your container.  Chop the tomatoes.  There is no need to de-seed the tomatoes unless you are opposed to them.  If your jalapeno is in rings, there is no need to chop.  If it is whole, chop the jalapeno.  Add the tomato and jalapeno to the food processor.

Chopped tomatoes

Again pulse chop the veggies and DO NOT over process.

Processed tomatoes

Add the tomatoes to the cucumber mixture.  Add the juice, vinegar, oil, and seasonings to the veggies.

Everything added in

Mix well.  Let this sit in the fridge at least 3 hours to over night.

Gazpacho

Serve with some bread, more pickled jalapenos, and/or freshly chopped parsley.

Bowl of soup

This really may be the easiest recipe ever.  If you have a hand blender or a regular blender, you could also use those to lightly chop your veggies.  Feel free to experiment with yellow tomatoes, different peppers (maybe some adobo for a Mexican themed soup), or trying with sherry or different spices.  The best part is you have a large container of soup for multiple lunches or dinners for the week.  And it gets better over time!

 

ArtScape 2012

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ArtScape 2012

One of the many things I love about Baltimore is its quirkiness.  There’s a fairly large arts scene and it’s not necessarily all about the classics.  I first came to Baltimore 8 years ago in the beginning of July and heard about this arts festival that was held every year.  It’s called ArtScape.  It is the largest free arts festival in the U.S.  In the years that I’ve lived in Baltimore, the festival has expanded to include a whole area around the Station North area.  I might argue that there used to be better artists that would show in the main strip around MICA, but I do like the diversity that the festival brings.

One of the things about ArtScape is that as it’s always in mid-July, it is always BALLS hot.  Last year Ernie and I went and within an hour of us getting there, we had to leave it was so hot.  I did end up going back by myself as Matisyahu was doing a show (for FREE!).  Ernie is out of town this year, so I went by myself to check it out.  I wanted to see the band Clutch this year, so I went on Saturday after all the rain ended.  It was nice as it wasn’t hot.  I actually had a sweater with me!

I started out by exploring the Station North area first and was really happy I did.  This is where I first encountered the Baltimore Rock Opera Society.  They were having an air guitar contest.  It may have been pretty awesome.  Right next to the Rock Opera, there was what would have been Ernie’s favorite part had he been there.  Yes, it was a rhino with wings.

Flying Rhino

It’s not something you see every day.  So, I moved on and wanted to check out the other exhibits in the Sideshow area.  Next up was this strange wooden “village” built by architects from Morgan State.  I really wasn’t sure what the point of it was, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Wooden structure built across from The Charles

I turned around and saw John Waters!  Well, it was John Water’s face….  And a huge one at that.

John Waters’ face

After listening to a band that included a guitar, drums, a trumpet, and an electric cello, I decided I’d had enough of the sideshow area and wanted to check out the main area.  On the way back to the main area, I encountered some very strange “exhibits”.

Yarn bombed toilet

And this one…

Yarn bombed toilet #2

Yes, those are port-a-potties covered in knit/crochet.  I think I’ve seen everything.  I headed over to the newest exhibit that I’d seen reported in the news.  There is this huge metallic face structure with a bunch of different control boxes so that observers can make the different aspects of the face move.  It was pretty fun to watch all the expressions being made.

Face sculpture

I went up and down the street in front of MICA to see the vendors.  I didn’t see anything that I hadn’t seen in the past.  Plus, I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything, so I would feel bad if I just took pictures to show of stuff that I wanted to reproduce for free.  So instead, I headed over to the main stage to hear Clutch!

Clutch

They totally rocked!  It was a great show.  But I did feel a bit out of place.  I didn’t have enough tattoos, nor was I a guy with a long ponytail.  Yes, the show was a little Dundalk-ish.  But it was a good show.  So, I did what any other classy lady by herself would do.  I went to the corner store and bought myself a beer :).

My classy beer in a bag from the corner store.

Two bite brownies

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Two bite brownies

Have you been to Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog yet?  No?  Well, you should.  You may not be a vegan, but she makes some amazing and healthy (well, healthier) desserts.  Like the blog name suggests, it is definitely heavy on the chocolate.  But that’s not a bad thing, right?  I decided to make one of her recipes recently.  The nice thing is that I can lick the bowl when I’m done and not have to worry about salmonella.  Pretty sweet!

Two Bite Brownie Recipe

  • 1/4 unsweetened cocoa powder

    Brownie Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sweetner (I used brown sugar, but xylitol can be used for a more low-cal version)
  • 1.5 oz firm tofu
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 TBSP almond milk (or soy, rice, etc.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (non-dairy)

Heat the oven to 325 F.  Mix all the dry ingredients together, including the chocolate chips.

Dry ingredients mixed

In a blender (or magic bullet) add the tofu, applesauce, oil, milk, and extract.  Remember tofu has no real taste, so it ends up absorbing the taste of everything around it.  It’s used in place of eggs in this recipe.

Tofu and wet ingredients

Mix these well until the tofu is smooth.

Wet ingredients blended

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and stir well to combine.

Brownie Batter

Oil a mini muffin pan and fill with the batter.  Cook the brownies for 10 to 14 minutes.  According to CCK, they taste better an hour after baking.  They do taste pretty good in the bowl :).  The recipe should make somewhere between 12 and 15 bites, depending how much you eat raw….

Brownie bites

Update: I have eaten a few of these (I am controlling myself!).  I might try to tweak the recipe next time as the raw batter was SO good, but the finished product is a bit dense.  Maybe changing up the amount of tofu might help or using Ener-g instead might help.  Either way, they are definitely tasty!

Zucchini Bread

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Zucchini Bread

Have you ever gotten one of those MONSTER sized zucchini from the farmer’s market and thought to yourself, “what am I going to do with this”?  Well, on Thursday I went out to the garden and found the biggest zucchini I’ve seen yet.  Two days before I felt like it would be fine for another day or so…  Boy, was I wrong.  So, I decided to make zucchini bread.  I found a recipe on Culinate‘s site and decided to run with it/tweak it a bit.

Vegan Zucchini Bread

  • 2 cups zucchini, grated and loosely packed

    Look at the size of that zucchini!

  • 2 TBSP ground flax seed
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • Juice of one lemon (and zest if you’ve got it)
  • 4 TBSP coconut oil
  • 3 TBSP blackstrap molasses (or agave or maple syrup)
  • 1/3 cup each raisins and craisins

Preheat the oven to 350 F and oil and dust with flour a 9×5 loaf pan.  To grate the zucchini, I would suggest using either a mandolin or a food processor.  The Mandolin will be a more fine grate than the processor.

Mandolin ($16 from BB&B) Totally worth it

To a large bowl add the zucchini, flax seed, flour, zest (if using), cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and brown sugar.  Mix the ingredients well.

Zucchini plus dry ingredients mixed

In a small bowl mix the milk and the lemon juice.  This mixture will curdle.

Curdled almond milk

Add the oil and the molasses and mix well.

Wet ingredents together

Gently mix the wet ingredients into the zucchini mixture and fold the raisins or craisins into the mixture as well.  Do not over mix the batter.

Batter

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Let the loaf cool for 5-10 minutes, remove from the pan and enjoy!

Zucchini Bread

Veggie Scramble

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Veggie Scramble

Do you ever get into a breakfast rut?  I’m not a fan of cereal and milk, so cereal is out.  I’ve decided to cut down on my dairy consumption, so yogurt is out (and soy yogurt is pretty darn expensive).  So, I’ve been pretty much just eating oatmeal in various flavors for breakfast four mornings a week.  I have started making green monsters one day a week, and weekends are either free for alls or I get something at the farmer’s market (Ethiopian “sandwiches” are PERFECT post run food).

So, this Sunday after I got home from a very hot run, I wanted to make something hearty and easy.  I’ve seen others make tofu scrambles in the past, but I really didn’t want a big plate of tofu.  I like tofu, don’t get me wrong, but a big plate of it?  Not so much.  So, I made MY version of a scramble, with enough for Monday’s breakfast as well.

Veggie Scramble

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup frozen shredded potatoes or one medium potato shredded/diced
  • 1 small zucchini chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic or pickled garlic scapes (go for the scapes!)
  • 6 baby bellas
  • 1/4 of a slab of tofu diced
  • assorted herbs: rosemary, basil, salt, pepper… pretty much anything

Heat a pan to medium high heat and add in the oil and onion.  Add in the potatoes and let them cook for 3ish minutes.  Add in the garlic and tofu and cook for another 3-5 minutes.  Add in the zucchini and cook another 3ish minutes.  Finally, add in the mushrooms and the herbs.  Cook for another 5ish minutes or until everything is heated through/done to your likeness.  Again, the nice thing is nothing has to be cooked, so it’s mostly about preference.

I sprinkled some nutritional yeast on top and served it with a HUGE and ripe tomato.  ZOMG, so good :).  Next time I might try a mexi version and use corn in the mix.  I found by making the veggies the star and not the tofu, this would be well tolerated by people who might not love tofu.

Scrambled veggies and a tomato

Adventures in Canning

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Adventures in Canning

One of the hopes when I started my garden was that I would be able to can/preserve any of the overflow I collected.  Whelp, my garden isn’t producing THAT much food, but I still wanted to try my hand at canning.  I made some strawberry rhubarb jam earlier this spring (SO GOOD!) and I even pickled the radishes that I had crazy amounts of.  But, I wanted to make PICKLES.  If you’ve ever met me, you will know a few things.  I’m tall, I have curly hair, I love hippos, and I LOVE pickles.  I could totally eat a big fat deli pickle every day of my life if I just didn’t have to drink a gallon of water after.  So, here is my account of my first attempt at pickles.  I picked up this AWESOME book called Food In Jars by Marisa McClellan.  She has a blog with the same name as well.  As someone formerly afraid to try this, I was super pumped with her easy to follow instructions and recipes.

Garlic Dill Pickles

  • 2 overflowing quarts of pickling cucumbers,

    Pickling Ingredients

  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 16 garlic cloves, peeled (2 per jar)**
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper per jar*** (2 teaspoons total)
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed per jar (8 teaspoons total)
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns per jar (4 teaspoons total)

Clean the jars you plan to use.  You can either use the dishwasher and keep the jars warm in it, or clean, then use the canning pot to heat your jars.  Heat the lids in a separate pan to a simmer.

Glasses sterilizing

Wash and slice off the blossom end of the cucumbers.

Cucumber

  You can leave them whole, slice in spears, or make into coins.  I did spears.

Cut cukes

In a large sauce pot add the vinegar, water, and salt.  Bring to a simmer/boil.

Brine

Add the pickling spices to each of the sterilized jars.

Spices in jar

Pack the jars with the cucumbers, packing tightly.

Veggies in jars

Pour the brine in to the jars, tapping the jars to make sure all air bubbles are out (also using a chopstick can be useful to get rid of air bubbles).  Leave a half inch of headspace at the top of the jars, then wipe the rims clean with a towel.  Apply lids and rings, making sure to tighten, but don’t force the rings on SOO tight.  Add the jars to the canning pot and once the water has reached a boil again, process for 10 minutes.

Cans in pot ready to be submerged

You don’t have to do a water bath, just make these refrigerator pickles and put the jars in the fridge after 24 hours.  If you do water bath can, check the seals by lightly pushing/tapping/pulling the lids.  If the lid didn’t set, no problems, just make these refrigerator pickles.  The canned food is stable for a year.

Finished jars

I also had some side projects going on….  As you can tell I decided to pickle some

Side projects

carrots with the cucumbers as well.  I also pickled some jalapenos and daikon radish, though I did the daikon as a refrigerator pickle only.  For the jalapenos, I followed another recipe from the blog found here.  For the daikon, I used rice wine vinegar and I added some sriracha as well.

The most awesome part of my day was grilling some zucchini and yellow squash that I harvested from my garden THIS MORNING.  Super awesome.

Garden plunder 7/4