Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Microwave Strawberry Jam

. . . is not as grand an idea as one might think.

Paper towels.  My new best friend.
So what's going on in your kitchen?


Monday, July 25, 2011

Fruit and Cheese

You know how sometimes one thought hopscotches to the next and you find yourself in the library searching for a book about Thomas Jefferson's years in Paris and wondering just how, exactly, you got there?


I started by thinking about Bastille Day, July 14, a patriotic holiday in France.  Bastille Day led me to thinking about French food, which led me to

cheese fondue (which is Swiss, turns out, in spite of the fact that this one is called French Onion Fondue).  Which led me to a book about cheese, written by a poet who mentions Moby-Dick and cheese curd in the same sentence and makes it seem like a natural pairing.  That led me to my Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook
and its listing of fruits and cheeses, which led me to our backyard peach tree
which got me to wondering if I'd written about cheese and fruit pairings before, which led me to the Too Hot to Cook chapter of my book Queen of the Castle
where, turns out, I certainly had.

And now I'm curious about cheeses and France and the late 1700s and Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and about what resources there are for homeschoolers interested in France
even though I am not a homeschooler and have no plans to teach a unit on France and by now Bastille Day is long over.

So here's a sandwich.  A fine snack or part of a meal when it's too hot to cook.

Bread (skinny baguettes are good)
Cheese (Mascarpone, a sweetened cream cheese that, turns out, is from Italy, not France)
Backyard or grocery store peach, sliced

Put the cheese on a slice of the bread.  Put a slice of peach on the cheese.  Eat.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Red Onion Preserves

I've made this recipe twice so far this summer, and there are more red onion preserves in my future, I can just feel it.  Kahuna's garden is going strong, and we have a plethora of onions, I tell you, a plethora. 

This tasty little condiment is wonderful on homemade pizza; as a side dish for grilled meats; and on open-faced sandwiches on toasted English muffins with melted Swiss cheese.  Yum.
The recipe is (slightly) adapted from a beautiful book called Cooking in the Moment:  A Year of Seasonal Recipes by Andrea Reusing.  I changed a couple of minor things, according to my taste and what I had on hand, so will post it here the way I made it.

2 T. olive oil
4 medium red onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
sea salt
1 c. dry red wine
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. honey
2 t. ground coriander seed

In a medium-sized pot over low heat, cook olive oil, onions, garlic, and a sprinkling of salt, covered, for about 10 minutes, until onions get soft.  Add wine, vinegar, honey, and coriander and cook, uncovered, for about 20 more minutes at medium or medium-low heat.  The liquid should start to get syrupy.  When it's done, put into jars and use as needed.  Reusing says it should keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator and I agree.

You can cut this recipe in half to give it a try; you'll end up with one small jar.  I'm thinking I will freeze some of this to use later in the year.

So how does your garden grow? 

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Coconut-Pineapple Smoothie

When it's too hot to cook, you just might need to drink some of your calories.  Here's a tropical coconut smoothie recipe I discovered in an old issue of Sunset magazine. 

This is just the kind of discovery that keeps me constantly trying new recipes.  It introduced me to cream of coconut -- an ingredient I'd never used before, but one that has become an immediate new favorite.  You can find it in the liquor section of the grocery store (though it's not alcoholic), near the grenadine and margarita salt.  Apparently it's used in pina coladas.  I was happily surprised to see it cost less than four dollars.

All I can say is, this cream of coconut is terrific in smoothies, especially if the other ingredients are mild enough that the coconut flavor shines through.  (When I put some in my mocha frappuccino, for example, the coffee flavor overpowered it.)  It's also terrific mixed with maple syrup (one part cream of coconut, two parts syrup), heated, and served over waffles.

Mmmph, it's good by the spoonful, too, straight from the can.  But if you tell anyone I said that, I 'll have to lie and say, no I didn't.

If you're curious about more uses for this creamy, sweet, coconut goodness, check out this web site.

And I would love to know:  Have you ever used cream of coconut, for drinks or other recipes?  Please share.


For one serving, combine in blender:
1/2 c. plain, unflavored yogurt
1/4 c. frozen pineapple chunks
1/4 c. cracked ice (about 3 or 4 ice cubes)
1/2 banana, sliced
1 1/2 T. cream of coconut (mmmmm)

Whirl in blender until it's smooth.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Vine-Ripened Tomato Cologne

Any idea what this is?
OK, I guess I gave it away with this post's title.
It's a little experiment.  Homemade cologne.  Made with tomato leaves.  And lemon zest.  And basil.  And mint (shown here).  Put the first four ingredients in a clean jar, pour in some vodka (and glycerine, if you have it), shake gently and let sit, mysterious, in a darkened, cool spot for a couple weeks until it's time to strain it and and come up smelling beautiful.
At least that's the hope.
4 T. fresh tomato leaves, chopped
1 T. fresh lemon zest
1 t. fresh basil leaves
1 t. fresh mint leaves
1 c. vodka
1/4 t. glycerine (I don't have any of this, so I'm hoping it won't matter that I've omitted it, especially since it's such a small amount. Glycerine is "a clear, odorless, sticky liquid" that "attracts moisture and keeps products from drying out," according to author and the source of this recipe, Janice Cox, in her book Natural Beauty from the Garden.)

I just made this, so I won't know the verdict for a couple of weeks.  But I stuck my nose in it just a minute ago, and it smells pungently, wonderfully lemony.

Do you ever make your own beauty products?  Feel free to leave a link if you've found a great recipe.