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Posts Tagged ‘yummy’

Ever since I can remember, I have loved the taste of coconut.

My dad would buy a coconut and I remember a couple of different ways of trying to get it open.

One was with a nail and a hammer. I remember drinking the milk with a straw.

The other was smashing the coconut on the sidewalk with great force; naturally, this would waste most of the liquid inside. But what fun! I don’t have many memories from when I was a little girl, but some of the ones with my dad are really good.

I loved eating the hard flesh of the coconut, even the papery brown part. So exotic, yet sweet, mild, and comforting.

Of course I loved shredded coconut as well and this is likely because it was sweetened with that powdery coating of sugar.

I know coconut is a deal-breaker for a lot of people. You love it or hate it. Like raisins. Or olives. Or cilantro. Sweet potatoes. Squash. Brains. Heart. Tongue. Cheek. Okay, so it’s starting to sound like sex and aren’t food and sex what it’s all about?

You know the greatest granola in the world, right? If you’ve been paying attention for any length of time around here, you know it is my granola.

For quite some time, I’ve switched away from canola oil. I’ve tried sunflower, safflower, and grapeseed oils. Recently, I bought some jars of coconut oil, mostly because I found it CHEAP at TJ Maxx and I used to use it ALL THE TIME when I did a lot of massage.

So I bought it to slather on myself after a shower or bath (is that TMI? TF Bad).

Back in 1987, when I was a massage student in Akron, Ohio, I did many hours of adjunct training in Neuromuscular Therapy with Paul St. John.

Studying this form of massage, which is a deep-tissue therapy based largely on Janet Travell’s work, is what, in part, made me a great massage therapist. I became all thumbs. And fingertips. And elbows (more acquired tastes, like brains and cheeks and hearts and tongues). You might not think it, but I used to be excessively strong in my hands. Always folks think men are the ones who give the deepest and best massages, but I’ve never experienced massages as focused and excellent and DEEP as [some] from [some] women. Just sayin’.

We were encouraged to use coconut oil by Paul St. John. I’ll tell you why. It is solid at room temperature. It melts on contact with the body. It is easy to control how much you use. When you do deep tissue work, in the style that I was taught, you want to stay very, very specific on the places in the muscles or tendons or ligaments that need attention. You don’t want to slide all over the place (like lomi lomi or something fer chrissakes!).

Last night, when I made my 20-cup batch of granola, I realized, quite late, that I was out of any oil but olive oil. Well, you can’t use olive oil for your granola, no way, no how. So I made it with some of the unopened coconut oil from one of the jars I’d stocked up on. People, this batch of granola is the BOMB. YES YES YES.

When I was in Kauai, I was treated to a traditional hula performance by a mother and daughter. Apparently, the dances that tend to be performed for the mainland tourists are not true, traditional hula. Historically, the women were topless, just like the men (though our mother and daughter were clothed on top). The dance has far more depth of meaning than appears on the surface with a lot of complexity to the movements of the hips, arms, legs, feet, and hands (maybe nowadays there is more emphasis on the real thing?). But what, white people from the mainland couldn’t handle a native peoples’ traditional dance? Imagine that. Almost like an entire portion of the populace voting against their own interests. But I digress….

I have this photo in my card collection and I love it. I can see it in my mind sometimes. Lots of thoughts come to me. Her pride. Her beautiful poise. The sense I have of her uncompromising posture. You know what I see? DON’T FUCK WITH ME.

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Butternut squash is an old staple crop here in the Valley, but in attempting to research it on the web, I couldn’t get a clear history (time to ply Farmer Dan for answers). Squash was part of a traditional Three Sisters garden. When my kids were each in 3rd Grade at their school, they planted a Three Sisters garden. Awesome.

You see field after field of butternut all along the Connecticut River. I know the pumpkin crop in New England was heavily damaged due to Hurricane Irene; I’m not as sure about the butternut squash. You see truckloads piled high traveling hither, thither, and yon on the roads around here. I haven’t really noticed this year.

It’s been damp and cloudy for days. I feel like I’m in Ohio except for those wild animals that were running around over there last week. Hubby and I discussed our memories, from about 20 years ago, of living in Kent and reading for weeks about someone in Rootstown who had a wild-animal farm where some little kid got attacked by a tiger. Claims of safety ensued, lawsuits and debates followed. At least I think it was Rootstown. Anybody else remember this?

In this week’s Thankful Thursday, I wrote about homemade veggie stock. I’m simply too lazy to write up a veggie stock prescription right now, but it would make logical sense to have your veggie stock ready before you cook this. Also, in keeping with being NON-CANDY-ASS, you’ll want to have soaked about a cup (or slightly less) of white beans the night before so they’re ready to go for adding to this soup.

Here comes a recipe for one of my favorite soups of all time. FAVORITE OF ALL TIME! That’s a bold statement:

Kale, Butternut Squash, and White Bean Soup                                                                                                                                     from Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin

1/3 C olive oil
2 large onions, diced
10 C vegetable stock
1 C finely diced canned tomatoes, with liquid
2 tsp fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced, appx 2 C
2 C cooked or canned white beans, well rinsed
1/2 lb. kale, shredded
grated parmagiano-reggiano

1. Heat oil in stockpot. Add onions and cook until tender.
2. Stir in stock, tomatoes, rosemary, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Add squash and simmer. Cook 30 minutes until squash is tender.
3. Add beans and kale, cook 15 minutes and serve with cheese.

NOTES: I make this soup in all manner of batches and sizes, usually doubling it or more. The quantities of ingredients are very forgiving. Sometimes I use fresh tomatoes to no detriment, or of course (NOT CANDY-ASS ALERT) the ones I’ve roasted and frozen from the summer crop. I also sometimes use spinach over kale. Just a softer texture, not so much for the flavor. It freezes well and is a great fall soup when the crops are all in. If I use fresh rosemary, I add it toward the end of cooking. I always use my own veggie stock which I highly recommend over store-bought or bouillon.

The recipe was given to me by an old Kent friend, Abby Greer. She made it at a Play Group Christmas Party in 1998. Warm memories and post-partum depression.

For musical accompaniment, you could play “Beautiful Soup” from some manifestation of Alice in Wonderland, the best one being Gene Wilder singing it from a somewhat charming 1990’s TV movie. Or you could listen to this which seems to fit my mood today and the weather we’ve had of late, even though the video was shot in the spring.

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Kale, how do I love thee?

One, you start with the letter K. Not many vegetables can make that claim (kohlrabi?).

When I was anemic (severely), you called to me, for you are full of iron. Fe on the periodic table, from the Latin, ferrum, meaning, well, iron.

The most common nutritional deficiency in the world? Lack of iron.

The most abundant element on earth? Iron.

Why do you need iron in your body? So your red blood cells can carry oxygen (O). You need 4 Fe molecules per erythrocyte in order to carry one molecule of O2. This is why anemic folks get out of breath (at least I did).

Wait a minute, twinkly, is this the same iron that we see rusting on playground fences and garden tools?

HELL YES! Would I lie to you?

What do you need to absorb iron so your red blood cells can carry oxygen? Something acidic (lemon or orange juice work well). What can interfere with Fe absorption? Among other things, calcium (Ca). The particulars of this get pretty tricky so if you are interested, you should do some of your own research.

What form of iron do humans most successfully absorb? Heme iron, found in red meat, especially liver, also oysters. You can eat a lot of kale and it will help, but it won’t get you out of a severe anemia.

Kale is in the brassica family. It is a cabbage or cruciferous vegetable, named for the shape of the leaves at its base. You can therefore feel virtuous for eating cabbages, getting to the crux of the matter, as it were.

Here’s my basic kale recipe and how I cook my kale almost always, though I do put it in soups and frittatas and egg-and-cheese strata. Me and the mister just love it this way and I think you will, too:

Get yourself a bunch of lacinito kale (aka dinosaur, Tuscan, or black kale)

But twinkly, can’t I use another kind of kale?

NO. This is my blog and you will do as I say and cook as I do.

Here’s why–

the lacinito kale is beautiful and dark, dark green. Its leaves are firmer than the other varieties of kale. It is darker green, so, even though I’m making this up, it stands to reason that it’s higher in vitamin A and all of the B-complex vitamins. It cooks up crunchier than other kale because it’s leaves are so dang firm. No soggy crap!

That tough stem that all kale recipes tell you to remove? You can leave it. You can leave it in all varieties of kale, but especially with the lacinito kale. Yes, you can trim it at the bottom if it is a 1/4 inch or more wide, but leave the rest.

Okay, back to the recipe:

Ingredients:

appx 1 lb fresh lacinito kale, trimmed at the bottom

appx 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (you already know your fats should be organic)

garlic, at least 3 cloves (I like the hard-necked garlic when it’s available) ready for a garlic press

half a lemon

some toasted sesame oil and don’t use the Trader Joe’s stuff because it doesn’t have a shaker-top and it’s not too flavorful to boot

sea salt

freshly ground pepper

good set of metal cooking-tongs (you won’t be using a non-stick pan, right me maties?)

Method:

Grab your big bunch o’ kale

Rinse the leaves. Usually kale is pretty clean of dirt, but sometimes does have some little bugs

After rinsing, leave the leaves full of those beautiful, silvery dew drops of water

Cut your kale into a chiffonade. Use a really good, sharp knife–not serrated,’kay?

(chiffonade is French, but your knife should probably be German)

You don’t have to cut it super-fancy thin, but about 1/8″ is good. You’ll need to cut narrow across, not length-wise

Heat about a TBSP of evoo in a large pan on medium heat, or if your stove gets really hot (I have electric, sorry purists), turn that down a notch. Don’t use a non-stick pan because a. Teflon will kill you (the fumes can kill a bird) and leach icky endocrine-disruptors and hormone mimicers into everything and into everyone’s gonads, even fish and especially amphibians and b. your kale will not sear properly and have a tiny crunch to it.

If you are anemic (menstruating ladies, take heed), you can use a cast-iron pan for extra iron

When your oil has a bit of a sheen on it, throw in the kale. It will sizzle and pop. Take a step back and let the dew do its magic.

While the kale steams a bit in the pan, take your garlic cloves and crush them in a garlic press (I DO sometimes slice my garlic, but I prefer the crushed in this recipe). Throw the garlic onto the kale.

Grab up a tong-full of kale and turn it in the pan a few times. Do this until all of the kale gets a turn: fair is fair. The garlic needs to be distributed evenly.

Grab your half-a-lemon and squeeze some of that baby into your pan. Sizzle, sizzle. Do your guests like a lot of lemon? Use more juice. Keep grabbing up the kale and turning it in the pan.

Take the toasted sesame oil and shake shake shake it onto the kale. Now you can also shake your booty. Put on some James Brown. Now you’re cookin’! Maybe five shakes should do the trick. It’s really a matter of preference.

You can put a pinch or so of sea salt (appx 1/4 tsp) onto the kale and grind some pepper on there, too. Salt seems to go pretty far on kale, not sure why, so don’t overdo it; you can always add more after a taste-test.

That’s about all. I like the kale to have a lot of crunchiness and some signs of searing, but I don’t like it to lose its bright hue. You can cook it so it has no searing or you can cook the living hell out of it like our parents’ generation seemed to do to all green veggies.

HIT IT AND QUIT IT!

Would I lie to you?

photo: ©kgfarthing2011

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I am sure that no one in my family shares my love for Garlic Scapes Pesto.

I started making this stuff for the first time last summer on the suggestion of a friend. Previous to that, I would bring home a handful of scapes from my farm share, and with a puzzled expression, not unlike one you might see on the face of a country rube with a piece of straw dangling from his mouth in an old 1960’s cartoon, I would chop a few into a stir fry or onto a fresh green salad, to no accolades and with no desire to do it ever again.

I found many recipes for Garlic Scapes Pesto on the web last year. I credit this one to dorie greenspan with a couple of tweaks by me.

1 C (appx 10-12) garlic scapes, roughly chopped

1/2 C hand-grated* parmigiano-reggiano

1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

1/3 C toasted, slivered almonds

appx 2 tsp fresh lemon juice (squeeze it baby!); additional lemon zest if you like

1/2 tsp sea salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

Put all ingredients, save the cheese, into a food processor and chop until uniformly blended and to your personal preference for smoothness

After you have transferred every last bit of the pesto from the food processor into a glass (or ceramic) mixing bowl, add the grated parm-reg until well-blended

Put the pesto into an airtight container and refrigerate. Use it whenever you want, even on a midnight kitchen raid while you are watching a dirty French movie. I don’t think it will make you fat, even if you eat a cupful all at once.

I have found that the pesto stays fresh for around 4-5 days after it’s refrigerated. If you want to be like twinkly, you’ll double, triple, or quadruple the recipe (see note below) and you will freeze smallish portions for later use. Like next week and the week after because you will never get enough of this stuff. I dare you to try to have even one batch left when the snow flies. But wouldn’t it be loverly if you could make it last that long?

*after experimenting last summer with this recipe as well as with recipes for traditional basil pesto, I have found that adding the cheese into the food processor has a detrimental effect on both texture and flavor. Also, in typical twinkly fashion, I make huge batches of things so as to maximize my TIME SPENT PREPPING/COOKING to FOOD YIELD ratio. I freeze the garlic scapes pesto sans cheese (and so should you).

HOW DO I EAT IT? Well, I eat it on crackers for lunch, every day until it is gone. I eat it on wheat linguine noodles with nothing else or with cooked chicken added. I am eating it right now atop an Ak-Mak. You should do these things if you know what’s good for you and you should write to me with any new ways to eat it that are delicious.

And look, I’m gonna use the same goddamn photograph I used in yesterday’s post. That’s how little I like to work. I didn’t even reduce it like yesterday. God am I lazy.

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Twinkly’s Glorious Granola

6 C rolled oats (I get them in bulk, filling up my huge, glass pickle-jar with the tare weight deducted)
1/2 C chopped, toasted almonds (I use the sliced-variety from Trader Joe’s, though I hate the wasteful packaging)
1/2 C flaked coconut (not shredded, but use what is most texturally pleasant to you)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 C coconut oil
1/2 C honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients, taking special care to get the very dry cinnamon all over everything else. I also like to crunch up the almonds into smaller bits (it’s a very satisfying sensory experience to do this with bare hands). In a small saucepan, add coconut oil and honey and heat on medium- low until well-blended. Add coconut oil, honey, and vanilla to dry ingredients. Mix until dry ingredients are coated. Grease a 13″x9″ pan with coconut oil. Spread granola evenly in pan. Bake the whole schmear for appx 30 minutes. Midway through baking, stir granola and turn pan for even cooking. Check frequently in the last 15 minutes so granola doesn’t burn.

Remove from oven, cool, and ENJOY! I eat mine with vanilla yogurt every morning for health and happiness.

NOTES:

Granola burns easily. Either check frequently or lower baking temp to 300 or 325 and increase cooking time.

This is a basic and versatile recipe and you can add almost any yummy addition your heart desires, such as 1/2 C sesame seeds, 1/2 C roasted sunflower seeds, 1/2 C dried fruit. The original recipe called for 1/2 C of toasted wheat germ and 1/2 C of wheat bran, but when I experimented with giving up wheat a few years back, I dropped these ingredients and grew to love it even more without them.
This recipe came to me by way of George Hart (I believe it was his mother’s), with a few tweakings by me. I’ve been making this for over 25 years and have never strayed from its path of righteousness. So much better than that over-priced, store-bought crap. Except for a few kinds of locally-made granola I’ve found–Anatola Granola from Hawaii, something from the little grocery in Germany, and a recent discovery down in Southwest F-L-A.

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