Friday, August 31, 2012

Salade Nicoise Californian with Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette

Two Bowls of Salade Nicoise Heaped with Veggies and Fish and Eggs
All This and Romaine Too

Recipe inspired by the Lunch Box


Oddly enough, American versions of Salade Nicoise have evolved so much that they’re no longer Nicoise. Readers who are versant in French (I’m not) know that Nicoise means from Nice, the largest city on the French Riviera. In Nice, Salade Nicoise always contains local Cailletier olives, cured in a salty olive oil brine. The original recipe that I altered, like many American recipes, contains no olives at all. So I needed to add some high quality, salty, oily olives.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grilled Vegetables & Grilled Peaches

Plate of Grilled Veggies and Container of Peaches
Zucchini, Padrons, Hungarians, and Peaches

Recipe by Bruce


It’s almost Labor Day. I know, I know, end of summer is coming too soon, just like last year. But we have one more holiday, and several more grill-friendly weekends before we need to winterize the BBQ. Late summer produce is cheap and plentiful…so let’s get grillin’…veggies! All types of summer squash, eggplant, sweet and hot peppers, and onions are classics. Peaches make a yummy dessert at barbecues, with or without vanilla ice cream. Grilled corn is delicious, but remember that it’s typically genetically engineered (a GMO) when grown commercially. GMOs have not been well tested for safety. Buy corn from your local farmer or organic market if you don’t grow it in your backyard.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spicy Cabbage, Tomato, and Radish Salad

Bowl of Salad with Fork
Light and Summery Salad

Recipe from The Cooking Decade


Like the Thai Napa Cabbage Chicken Salad, I have no idea where this recipe came from. Unlike the Thai Salad, it’s a magazine clipping, not scribbled in my handwriting. This is another recipe from The Cooking Decade, a looseleaf binder of family recipes given to me by my sister Chris, who says she’s in her second non-cooking decade. You didn’t hear it from me, but she’s a fabulous cook when she chooses to be, and all of the recipes from her Cooking Decade have been triple tested and family approved. Plus this particular recipe is great for using up those tomatoes that are coming in like crazy right now.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Low Sugar Raspberry Jam

Raspberry Jam on English Muffin
(Almost) Instant Gratification

Recipe Adapted from Happy Girl Kitchen


Red raspberries: my absolute favorite fruit! They’ve been scarce this summer compared with golden raspberries, which are also delicious but too subtle in flavor to make good jam. Since raspberry season is so short, preserving them in light honey sauce is a way to eat them almost indefinitely. This year I also tried raspberry jam, adapted from the Happy Girl Kitchen recipe for Low Sugar Strawberry Jam that I posted a couple of weeks back.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sherried Nectarine Crumble

Plate of Nectarine Crumble and Whipped Cream
Crumble Served with Whipped Cream

Recipe adapted from Crumbles & Cobblers: A Celebration of the Simple Joys of Crumbles & Cobblers


What’s not to like about crumbles and cobblers? They’re easy to bake, can be made with almost any fruit even if it’s overripe, and are loved by almost everyone. Recipes can be doubled or cut in half successfully because their chemistry is simple. Also, as authors of the cookbook Crumbles & Cobblers point out, they’re more economical than pies because they require less flour and fat. I’ve noticed they also require a LOT less time.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Strawberry, Arugula, and Spinach Salad

Closeup of Salad from Above
Pine Nuts and Parmesan Add Contrast

Recipe by Robin


We’re in the time that old-timers call the dog days of summer: hot, sultry days that are noticeably shorter than June’s. It’s the final hurrah, the wrap-up of summer, a time to appreciate being outdoors in shorts and sandals, sitting around the yard relaxing, tending the garden, or heading to the beach for some sun and fun. Cooking elaborate dinners in a hot kitchen? Not so much.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cold Summer Borscht

Pot of Beet Soup topped with Yummy Extra Ingredients
When Stirred, It Gets Pinker

Recipe by The Art of Polish Cooking


Third in a trio of seasonal beet soups, this borscht features the summertime bounty of old world Poland, the country of my ancestors. Simple borscht, a wintery dish served hot, is made from shredded beets and seasoned beef broth. Spring borscht is served at room temperature. It contains young sliced beets with their greens, along with young dill and green onions, lemon, sour cream, and eggs. Summer borscht is served chilled. In addition to the ingredients in spring borscht it contains meat, shrimp, and cucumbers of the plentiful summer season.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Poppyseed Bread with Yellow Plum Glaze

Slice of Bread from Loaf
Unusual, and Unusually Delish

Recipe by Leslie


I’ve wanted to try this recipe for decades. My former housemate Leslie, the sweetest person in the world, created it. I joined the household a year after they’d grown poppies in the garden and she’d perfected the recipe through trial and error. Sadly, they didn’t grow poppies the year I moved in. This bread is more well-endowed with poppyseeds than most, and frosted with an unusual stone fruit spread that’s essentially jam and butter mixed together. The taste combination of the crunchy, subtly spiced cake and sweet-tart fruity topping are indescribable. You’ll have to try it to know it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Low Sugar Strawberry Jam

5 jars of jam
Strawberries in Winter

Recipe by Happy Girl Kitchen


Making strawberry jam is magical. First, there’s the delicious scent of cooking berries that rises from the pot and permeates the kitchen. Second, there’s the way the berries foam up to several times their original volume while cooking, as they release air. How can berries be so full of air in the first place? Then there’s the always-magical gel point, where boiling fruit settles down and becomes jam. Lastly, there’s the magic of opening a jar in the winter and spooning out memories of summertime fields. Now is the time to start preserving!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pan Roasted Padron Peppers

Plate of Pan Roasted Peppers Drizzled with Oil, Sprinkled with Salt
Your Choice: Is it Hot or Not?

Recipe by Live Earth Farm


Eating pan roasted padron peppers is like playing Russian roulette. Sooner or later, somebody’s going to get burned. Fortunately, we'll eventually recover from even the hottest padron, though it might seem to take an eternity. Approximately one in ten padron peppers is seriously hot and spicy, others have an earthy, savory crunch and vary from mild to middlin’. Though odds favor the “bigger is hotter” aphorism, it’s always a gamble to eat them all in one bite. Beware of large padrons bearing big seeds! When in doubt, nibble a conservative amount from the no-seed end. You might choose to remove those seeds (with knife, not fingers!) before proceeding.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

August Veggies and Recipes

Three Bees Sleeping on Calendula
Bees Spending the Night Away from the Hive

Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy


Golden days of August are perfect for vacation, whether it’s two weeks away from home or a few hours in the backyard hammock. First harvest has passed, and many more fruits and veggies are ripening for our enjoyment this month. In the midst of this abundance, sunlight takes on a new slant by month’s end, foreshadowing the approach of darker days in the seasonal cycle. Like our ancestors, we might consider preserving August’s bounty for both economic and culinary reasons, while eating all that we like of our summer favorites.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Top Ten Plants for August Harvest

Red Poppy Blossom and Green Pod
My Seed Poppies in June

Happy First Harvest!


It’s Lammas, the ancient Anglo-Saxon festival celebrating the first harvest. On this holiday, halfway between summer solstice and autumn equinox, ancients gathered grain and baked bread to share in hopes that later harvests would be bountiful. In ancient Celtic tradition, Lughnasadh is a time for harvest wild caneberries as well as grains.

Here in the Santa Cruz mountains, we have little corn and no wheat to harvest. But I do have seeds from poppies planted back in early April, and a perfect dry summer day for harvesting. Blackberries are beginning to ripen along rural pathways, so like the Celts we can graze in nature. August is a rich month for harvests, and the easiest time of year to eat locally on a budget. Below are a few foods to look for from your local farm this month.