Heirlooms

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I hope everyone out there has had a chance, by way of their own garden or farmers market, to take advantage of all tomatoes this season! If you’ve been growing them yourself, you may be in a position of too many tomatoes… not a horrible problem I assure you, but loving said tomatoes so much, you want to make sure they don’t go to waste before you have a chance to use them, right? Sharing them with people is always a rewarding option, but if you are looking for new ways to use them, I have a great one to share with you today. Over at House of Earnest there is a great recipe for Tomato Handpies. I don’t know about you, but I will be trying these out very soon! If you have any other great uses for tomatoes, feel free to post in the comments – but as always, a good heirloom tomato often needs nothing more than a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

 

*photo from House of Earnest blog post

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Graft

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This week I came across Chinese designer Qiyun Deng on Cargo Collective. Talk about some gorgeous flatware! Looks good enough to eat, don’t you think?

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AllinThePotYummy things have been growing in the garden: Rainbow carrots, lemongrass, and thai basil. I wanted to use them in a dish together, but also had some things in the fridge I needed to use – mainly a yam. Yams make me think of either sweet potato fries, or thanksgiving meals, but I took a chance with it and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome!

I’ve really been inspired by those “throw it all in a pot” dishes and thought I’d try something along those lines. I love the simplicity of this meal; the hardest work involved was chopping the carrots and yam.

Lemongrass RainbowCarrots

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Yam

Here are my ingredients:

1 chicken breast, salted

1 yam, cubed

3 -4 carrots, sliced

1 bunch of green onions, cut into 2 inch sections

1 handful lemongrass

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 cinnamon stick

handful of thai basil leaves

juice of 1 lime

heaping spoonful of curry paste

1 can coconut milk

1 qt. chicken stock

honey – to taste

Cooking:

Place all ingredients into a dutch oven and cook over low heat. When the chicken is cooked through, shred it up in the pot and taste. If desired, add more honey.

Serve over rice.

* note: I ended up fishing out lemongrass before serving. For ease, fold the lemongrass in half and tie with baker’s twine before placing in the pot.

I’ve made this dish since, and you can substitute the veggies for whatever you want – even add some peaches or pineapple in there! I like a little sweetness in my curries, though if you’re using fruit, keep in mind you will not need much honey.  These ingredient proportions make a full pot and will serve at least 8 people (feel free to add more chicken and veggies for more people, the soup portion should stretch). We like to make this for our lunches, as it lasts us over a week!

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Collab Event with Abigail Tjaden

Untitled-2One of the best things about food is how it brings people together! Newfound friends from the south were made this month, and last week we had to say goodbye. SE Portland friend and artist Abigail Tjaden and I wanted to give them something great as a parting gift, and thought “what better way to send them off  than with a Portland-style bohemian picnic?” Gathered at Col. Summer’s park, we spread our blankets, pillows, and finger food.  Cured meats, cheese, fruit, olives and bread served as a simple dinner and made for easy eating.

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Even with the already great people-watching  that is available to Col. Summers, we drew alot of attention with our set-up. It takes a little more work and prep, but it’s a really simple way to make something ordinary, like a picnic, into something special.

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“Great cooking not only celebrates the ingredients, but also celebrates the moment.” – The Flavor Bible

“Great cooking …

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Food Waste Fridays with The Frugal Girl

Talking today with another “Kristen!” She is the brains behind the blog The Frugal Girl, which is about cheerfully living on less. Among exploring the many household ways to stay within your budget, she also shares how she uses up her fridge leftovers. This really forces you to be creative in the kitchen, while saving your money and resources at the same time.

KN: Minimizing rotten fridge food is something my husband and I are still working to master, but we also want to be sure we’re eating fresh & healthy foods. Can you suggest any fruits or veggies that have a longer shelf life?

 FG: I think buying a combination of short and long-life produce is a great way to combat waste.  What’s important is to eat the most perishable produce shortly after shopping and save the more shelf-stable fruits and veggies for later in the week.  For instance, berries, spinach, and fresh herbs are good to use right away, whereas things like cabbage, carrots, apples, pears, cucumbers, and peppers can wait until later.

KN: What is the most creative thing you’d come up with out of your leftovers?

FG:  Hmm, that’s a tough one!  I was particularly pleased with the asparagus/pink sauce combination I came up with recently, using some leftover shrimp, pink sauce, and grilled asparagus.

I most frequently use up odds and ends in the fridge by making scrambled eggs or salads, though, because you can throw almost anything into those two dishes.  Baking is also a favorite way to use up produce and slightly-off dairy (muffins are great for that!)

KN: What advice would you give to people to help reduce kitchen waste at the source: The Shopping Cart?

 FG:  Making a meal plan that includes a plan for produce use helps me a lot.  It’s easy to get all inspired at the store and overbuy produce, but if you’ve got a plan, you can buy exactly what you’ll use.

Thanks for chatting! Let’s see what you dishes you’ve created out of leftovers this week!

Remember, you can find Kristen’s ingenious ideas for leftovers each week over at www.thefrugalgirl.com.

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PasteldeNata

Let me tell you – I thought I loved flan. I thought I loved Spain, because they understood my passion for egg-y custards.

Then I went to Portugal.

I may be a fickle food mistress, but Portugal has my heart forever when it comes to custards. A popular Portuguese pastry is Pastel de Nata (pronounced “pashtel de not-uh”), though they have many others created around an egg-based custard. While in Portugal, my husband and I would sit at a cafe every morning to have espresso and pastel de nata for breakfast. It was a heavenly way to start the day.

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I honestly felt a little conflicted in trying to find a recipe for this dessert because I thought it may be the end of my waistline. These are definitely NOT healthy pastries and, since they’re fairly small, it’s easy to eat more than a daily recommended amount. I finally did try making them, but am still perfecting it to taste just like Portugal. My waistline? Well, I’m biking more.

The first step to Pastel de Nata is a good puff pastry. This can be store bought, or you can easily find a standard puff pastry recipe online (I particularly like this one from Sophisticated Gourmet).

Roll the dough into a log, and slice off circles. Mold them into a muffin tin. Cover and put in freezer.

Make the custard:

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

2 cups milk

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon custard powder

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Dissolve the sugar in 1/3 cup water in a saucepan over low heat.

Mix the milk, cornstarch, and custard powder so that there are no clumps. Add to saucepan.

Add egg yolks and vanilla.

Stir over low heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Continue stirring for 1 minute.

Pour custard into a bowl. Cover and let cool.

 

When the custard has cooled, spoon it into the puff pastry dishes and cook at 425F for 30 minutes, or until the tops have browned a bit.

Let the pastries cool for a few minutes, and remove them from the tray. They can be served warm or at room temperature, but store them in the fridge if you won’t be eating them right away.

The Skillet

The Skillet

Hands down, my most prized kitchen dish is my skillet. It was from a garage sale – nothing fancy – but I use for most every meal I cook. Cast iron has so many great qualities, from even heat distribution to it’s non-stick capabilities. It also transfers from stove-top to oven easily, and of course, is extremely durable.

We use our skillet to grill veggies and meat, make paella or mixed rice dishes, cook fish in a sauce, berry cobbler… you name it! You’ll find me suggesting it’s use in most of the projects I post on this blog. If you don’t have a skillet yet, I suggest investing in one – they’re not very expensive and are worth their weight in gold (seriously – they’re heavy).

What kitchen tool could you never live without?

photo credit: http://www.thefrugalgirl.com

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