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caprese skewers

plate o' caprese skewers

Want an easy, colorful, summery, fancy-schmancy looking appetizer to serve guests? These little fellas fit the bill, the bright crunch of juicy tomato mingling with sweet basil and fresh mozzarella, all drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.

There. The food porn description is out of the way.

tomato, basil, mozzarella, together at last. just like nuts and gum.

We threw a surprise party for Mom Saturday. As I apparently noted several times near the end of the night, it was a smashing success. Why several times? Seems I got drunk off my ass by the end. As planned. It wasn’t an accident ffs.

Look at that awesome cake Stacy’s mom made for the surprise party

Mom's birthday cake

People kept asking ahead of time how surprisey it was going to be. I briefly wondered at the wisdom of shocking someone with a history of heart problems, and laconically waved those concerns aside. “Not much, I think,” I told them. “We’re doing family pictures right before the party, and we expect people will begin showing up and we’ll be setting up right in front of her.”

Thanks to the big ass house, though, we were able to pull off a complete surprise. While the final pictures were being shot in the living room, Jennifer and I rushed off to the family room to get tables and chairs out and set out the cake. By the time we led Mom to the family room, most of the partygoers had arrived, and wound up giving her a proper “Surprise!” shout.

They're like little tomato soldiers, aren't they?

Oh, my point? One of the things I made was caprese skewers. I also made corn and crab dip. Crap. It’s gone. I didn’t get pics of it. Oh well, caprese skewers will do for now.

P.S. two to three of these is a 100-calorie snack. Believe me, you won’t have a chance to get your hands on more. Go for three. The calorie listing includes all of the balsamic vinaigrette, and I only wound up using about half of it. Read more on caprese skewers…

foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: rhubarb — it’s not just for pie anymore

rhubarb salsa

Rhubarb with caramelized onions? Rhubarb salsa? Rhubarb and lentil potage? I can hear you now, the ornery ones of you that is: What the hell, woman…rhubarb’s for pie. Crisps. Crunches.

prepping peppers, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro for the rhubarb salsa

For April’s Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event, I decided to explore the savory side of rhubarb, since there’s a ton of it growing about 50 feet from my front door. As rhubarb is technically a vegetable/herb, why not try some recipes that utilize rhubarb as a vegetable?

chop the rhubarb for the salsa finely. you don't wanna crunch into a big honkin' piece of this stuff.

Hey, salsa has a tangy bite. I bet rhubarb could work in salsa. So I tracked down a viable candidate in The Joy of Rhubarb: The Versatile Summer Delight. It’s a classic Mexican salsa, with fresh cilantro, green onion (which made me happy; I can’t stand regular onions raw), lime juice, jalapeño for a bit of bite, barely-blanched rhubarb, and lots of sweet peppers and more sugar than salsa normally would have, to counteract the rhubarb’s bite.

colorful rhubarb salsa ingredients :)

Dad’s verdict? “It would be great on hamburgers. By the way, we’re having hamburgers tonight….” Subtle hint there, Dad. ;-) Yeah, he went home with some rhubarb salsa. Linda thought it had a bit of a bitter rhubarb taste to it and suggested more sweetener. I loved it. Fresh, crisp, clean salsa taste with the rhubarb adding uniqueness without overpowering it.

Overall verdict for rhubarb salsa: Two snaps up. Read more on foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: rhubarb — it’s not just for pie anymore…

Foodbuzz 24×24: Don’t Get Chocolate on My Cards! Game Night Featuring Non-messy Finger Foods

tropical trail mix

Greetings and hello from the lovely planet Venus, where it’s cloudy and rains all the time. For our purposes, Venus is also known as Michigan.

For this month’s Foodbuzz 24×24 event, I hosted a Game Night — that’s with a capital G and N — and made oodles of easy-on-the-expensive-games snacks. I’m here to show you just how easy it is to have people over and serve amazing finger foods like tropical trail mix (above), asparagus frittata bites, blueberry-vanilla goat cheese on polenta dolce, cantonese roasted vegetables, and much, much more!

dishes carnage

Err…just try not to make these foods all at once. These dishes dirtied themselves for your benefit in testing all the recipes out. I wouldn’t recommending doing this all at once!

At the end of this post you’re also getting the easiest recipe of them all: tropical trail mix. Read more on Foodbuzz 24×24: Don’t Get Chocolate on My Cards! Game Night Featuring Non-messy Finger Foods…

mini palmiers: what to do with leftover puff pastry

mini palmiers

Here’s one amazing thing to do with leftover scraps of puff pastry: make mini palmiers. A good idea for snacks for a crowd. They’ll go fast, though!

Warning: drunken post ahead

My cousin Tone is in town, and he brought a big ass RV and several other modes of transportation with him. I countted five: the RV, the pickup, motorcycle, 4-wheeler and…kayak.

He’s set up house across the driveway. Yay.

He’s from Texas, like his mom —my aunt — who paradoxically was originally from right here. Like, right in this house. The oldest of my paternal triumvirant, Geriann, is his mom, and okay, this is getting both involved and a bit pedantic.

obliterating my ass at 500 rummy

He came over tonight and we played 500 rummy. Four times. He completely, totally obliterated my ass the first two times. He played it a bit gin rummy style, holding things back to kick my ass, playing mind games, and so forth.

I fixed that right quick

no, mini palmiers are not eyeglasses

Here, have some Wal-Mart wine, Tone.

Did you know that Wal-Mart, like Trader Joe’s, has a house brand of wine that will blow you away? In fact, I think the Wal-Mart brand is even better. It must be, because I’m having to spell-check this very carefully, and I don’t get this buzzed unless the alcohol is very good.

Wal-Mart markets two (at least) wonderful varieties under the Oak Leaf label: cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. Since I’m partial to reds, I buy the cabernet quite often. It used to be $2.97, and therefore comparable to two-buck chuck. I think it’s better. They just raised it — today— to $3.49, but I still think it’s a steal.

And I’m not some rube. I’ve had some very good wines in my day. This compares.

The first two games of rummy he smoked my ass. However, he was drinking this lovely cabernet the whole time, and by the third game I was able to smoke him, 605 to 390. Yay! I have to say he was a good foil; I’d never played 500 rummy with someone who played so strategically.

And man that was hard to spell.

Ultimately, we went through 2 and a half bottles of Wal-Mart cabernet. He is going to go buy more tomorrow if he knows what is good for him.

remnants of the pink brandywine

As for snacks, we began by stabbing, literally, at a pink brandywine. My tomatoes just succumbed to late blight, and I’m pulling all the tomatoes off the vines. It is very sad, and let us all share a moment of silence for them. He loved it; it was nearly as flavorful as my previous crop of pink brandywines, which means very smoky and rich.

the mini palmiers are almost gone, AND I'M WINNING

A bit afterwards, in the third game actually — coincidentally, the one where I smoked him — he got peckish again. The cad.

how dare he get peckish

I had a smallish pat of scraps of homemade puff pastry in the fridge, and I whipped it out, sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on it, and made a bit over a dozen mini palmiers from it.

He snarfed them.

Granted, anything puff pastry is going to be melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but include cinnamon sugar and you have little bursts of melty spiciness.

yay, he's totally drunk and snarfing mini palmiers

P.S. Did I mention I won the third game? Yeah, the one where the mini palmiers came out.

Song for this recipe: Carrion by British Sea Power. Read more on mini palmiers: what to do with leftover puff pastry…

the best dill dip evar

the best dill dip evar

Oh my. The garden asplode. Zucchini, broccoli, carrots, green beans, broccoli. And the broccoli isn’t sporting those horribly invisible green worms yet. I think.

There’s still lettuce and peas, though that’s ending now that hot temps have arrived, and cucumbers coming along, and some poblanos that are looking mighty big, and swiss chard with leaves 2 feet long, I kid you not.

fresh dill, about to get snipped to a zillion little pieces

Not to mention dill.

Rather than dump it in, I sprinkled it in JUST FOR YOU

I haven’t felt much like cooking the veggies yet, so I mixed up this dill dip that I love. Did I mention there’s dill in the garden too? Oh, I did. Guess what, it’s a perennial if you let it be so. Well, it’ll die away completely in the fall. But it’ll drop a zillion seeds, all of which will come right on up the next spring. So now there’s a loosely-defined “dill section” in the garden. Get some dill seed or plants for yourself, and you too can effortlessly have fresh dill from spring to fall, every year.

ha ha, she said “dip”

now it's time to stir the whole dill dip shebang together!

This dill dip is polite, yet ruthlessly efficient at what it does — delicately seasoned with a bit of parsley and a touch of seasoned salt and onion warming the background, it’s a dip where the freshness of dill dominates. I just consumed 1 large zucchini, 2 small carrots, and a good number of broccoli florets thanks to this dip. Go veggies! Read more on the best dill dip evar…

January 24, 2010 in 24x24, appetizers, desserts, vegan, vegetarian5 comments

We love seaweed, yes we do

This was maybe 1/3 of the sushi we made

We love seaweed, how about you?

People were confused when I told them my aunt Linda and I would be making sushi for January’s 24, 24, 24 event. “Isn’t that raw fish?” they asked, knowing I’m not a huge fan of animal foods. Technically, sushi is rice that’s been specially prepared with vinegar and a little sugar, and topped with or rolled with…something.

nigiri sushi of brown rice with carrot on top, and pickled beet

It could be a shaped piece of rice with a slice of lightly steamed bias-cut carrot on top, tied with a scallion. This is nigiri sushi.

futo maki (big roll) of brown rice sushi with crab, scallion, tamago, and cucumber

It could be a fat roll of rice bound in nori (seaweed) and filled with imitation crab strips, tamago (japanese omelet), scallion, and cucumber. This is futo maki.

inside-out brown rice sushi with avocado, imitation crab, and pickled beets

It could be an inside out roll, with the rice outside the seaweed, all enveloping imitation crab, avocado, and pickled beets. This is uramaki. But everyone calls it inside out roll. ;-)

sweet nigiri sushi with kiwi and candied ginger

It could even be dessert.

Other forms of sushi include battleship roll (gunkan), which we didn’t make, temaki, which we didn’t make, and hosomaki, or thin rolls, which we did make, but I didn’t get any closeups of. Thin rolls use half a sheet of nori and are filled with only one or two ingredients besides the sushi rice.

what’s in this post, and what isn’t

Read more on We love seaweed, yes we do…

what to do with fresh blueberries

What *I* like to do with fresh blueberries!

I have a confession to make.

I cannot bring myself to bake or cook with fresh berries.

Why not? Their season is so short, it seems such a waste to transform them with heat, when frozen berries will do the job just as well. And you can whip out frozen blueberries in the dead of winter, anytime.

But fresh berries in the dead of winter? You know they’re out of season, so they’re being shipped thousands of miles, and hey! *snaps fingers* we’re trying to eat more local here. In that process of being shipped across continents, they’re losing freshness and flavor, and won’t be worth much fresh anyway, in my opinion.

Why not practice a more seasonally-aware cuisine? Gorge on fresh when it’s available, and freeze or preserve once you’ve gotten sick on fresh blueberries. (Tomorrow I’ll be freezing blueberries, and show you how, which is hardly necessary, as it’s so damn easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it before.)

In the spirit of practicing a more seasonally-aware cuisine, we’re now eating 99% blueberries and sweet corn. Ha ha.

13 ways of looking at a blueberry

Simple, as usual, is better. There are approximately 3 general ways to go with fresh blueberries. First is sweet, and mixed with dairy and/or grains. Second and third are savory, in salads or salsa.

We’ll get the obvious out of the way first. Read more on what to do with fresh blueberries…