Saturday, March 30, 2013

Natural Egg Dyes Recipes and Tips

Basket of 2 1/2 dozen natural dyed easter eggs
Easter Egg Experiment Results

Methods by Staff of Life and Robin

For many years I’ve wanted to color Easter eggs with natural vegetable dyes. I’d heard that preparation is more work and takes longer than dropping a few tablets into a cup. I’d heard that the colors are more subtle and that eggs take longer to dye. I’d heard that results are not predictable. All that is true. Still, the act of making dyes from common seasonal vegetables, with all of its unpredictability, is a fun and intriguing science, provided that you and yours can allow some time to play with it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chicken with Oranges

Chicken with Oranges over Rice
Try Chicken with Oranges Over Rice
Recipe adapted from old magazine clipping

Does anyone else have a box of old recipes clipped from newspapers and magazines in the 90s, 80s, and before? I’ve got a giant box, and the unending project of re-evaluating the recipes one by one and putting them into a binder by type. Some of these retro recipes have readily-available modern counterparts, others seem odd and dated. But some are pure treasures, reflections of simpler times before ingredients like balsamic vinegars and fresh herbs were available year round at the local grocery store. Chicken with oranges is one such recipe, combining sweet and savory with a touch of salt and green herb, featuring the fresh taste of orange.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

9 Steps to Planning a Perfect Garden

Sun Sculpture hanging from tree with Blossoms in Background
Springtime Joy in the Garden

Method by Robin

It’s officially spring, and sometime between early April and late May, folks in the 48 contiguous states will start preparing their gardens. Soon we’ll be digging the beds, removing the weeds, and amending the soil—or preparing the containers. Then we’ll be planting the seeds or seedlings, slug/bug-proofing, watering, fertilizing, and mulching. And later, feasting on our harvest. But first, for a productive growing season filled with just enough of the veggies that we love without overworking ourselves, it’s best to do some planning. Here are some tips for looking at your space, time, energy, and budget before you start planting.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tangerine & Greens Salad with Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette

Plate of Dressed Salad
Tangerines, Spinach, Arugula = Bright, Delicious, and Healthy

Recipe adapted from Field of Greens

Today marks the second year since I started Seasonal Eating and I’d like to thank each and every one of my readers, Facebook fans, and especially my followers…349 posts later! Normally I’d bake a cake to celebrate, but I’ve already posted both Meyer Lemon Cake and Ginger Frosted Pineapple Cake this month--and Bourbon Pecan Cake shortly before that. So for the sake of balance, I’ll get back to our March theme of keeping our immune systems strong by enjoying high nutrient foods disguised as delicious dishes. Spring arrives tomorrow, and a light and sunny salad seems like the perfect way to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring. Tangerines won’t be available much longer, so let’s grab the last of them now, to use in both the salad and the dressing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ginger Frosted Pineapple Cake

Cake with Aloha written on it in ginger
Pecans: In the Pineapple Ginger Cake, or On the Side

Recipe adapted from Cooking By Moonlight

This pineapple cake is unique in several ways. First, there is absolutely no fat or oil in the cake itself (note: the frosting is another story). Second, it requires an entire can of crushed pineapple including the juice. This acidic juice interacts with the baking soda to make the cake rise. Lastly, I’ve already blogged several recipes from Cooking by Moonlight, my very favorite cookbook, so planned to just make this tropical-ish cake for a luau and not blog it. And then some lovely ladies at the luau wanted the recipe, and asked where to find it on Seasonal Eating. And so, by popular demand, here’s an easy cake that’s always a hit at parties.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bruce's Mushroom Kale Carrot Stir Fry

Bowl of Stir fry with serving spoon
Kale, Mushrooms, and Carrots: Help Yourself to Health

Recipe by Bruce

Don’t you love it when (1) another family member cooks dinner, (2) they use up all the odd leftover veggies in the fridge, (3) what they cook turns out amazing, and (4) you have a pen, paper, and foresight to write down what they did so they can recreate their masterpiece again and again. Kudos to hubby Bruce for creating this recipe a few years back, using ingredients that we had on hand. Not only is it delicious, but also nearly every ingredient promotes health and builds the immune system with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. Kale is high in vitamins A, B-complex, C, and K, as well as various flavonoids with antioxidant properties. Carrots have lots of vitamin A and several minerals. Mushrooms, ginger, and garlic are all nutritional superstars. The dish is colorful and low in fat. There is simply no downside to this recipe.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Persimmon Pudding II

Pan of Persimmon Pudding with one Slice Plated
For Now and For Later

Recipe adapted from Country Cookin’

As I noted in a previous post, there’s great diversity in persimmon pudding recipes, because they’re almost impossible to ruin. Unlike a cake or bread, a puddng’s moisture content and texture can vary quite a bit and still have mouth-appeal. Because this recipe is egg-free, its texture is looser than Persimmon Pudding I. For that reason it requires a bit more finesse, and a larger spatula, to cut and serve in squares. An easier alternative is to bake it in a deep casserole dish and scoop servings out into bowls. A large quantity of buttermilk, rather than a smaller amount of cream or whole milk, makes this old school recipe unique.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March Veggies and Recipes

Native Grasses with Daffodils
Harbingers of Spring

Winter into Spring

As we count down the final weeks of winter, days are longer and warmer but nights can be plenty cold. Or not. Typically we can expect all kinds of weather this month: from warm to cold, from wet to dry, and with plenty of wind from all directions. Chinese medicine practitioners warn that such rapid changes and strong winds can compromise our immune systems. Eating healthful foods, especially warm and moist foods, drinking liquids, and keeping our throats and feet warm can help--think scarves and socks. Spring tonics might be in order, in the form of antioxidant veggies or herbal supplements.  St. Paddy’s day is our last winter holiday this year. Spring arrives on March 20, followed by Passover and Easter. It’s time to plan the garden and sow early seeds in anticipation of the rich harvest of fruits and veggies we’ll have later in the year.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Meyer Lemon Cake

Lemon Cake Drizzled with Chocolate Sauce
A Little Chocolate Makes Anything Better

Recipe adapted from Cooking by the Seasons

One of the best things about winter in Santa Cruz, at least for foodies, is Meyer lemons. They grow abundantly throughout the county, and chances are someone at your work, among your friends, or in your rock band has a tree. If that’s the case, sooner or later you’ll get to share the wealth. A cross between the standard Eureka lemon and a mandarin, they are more fragrant and sweet than the Eurekas. This sweet bit of sunshine in the midst of winter is perfect for baked goods.