Black Winter Truffles

Displaying our truffles with Mirabelle the mutt and Jean Marc

We set out in Southern France to experience a  hunt for winter truffles with Johan, and his friend, Jean Marc, who keeps two truffle hunting dogs and trains them specifically for this purpose. I had been looking forward to it, but it turned out to be the highlight of our trip for several reasons. First of all , Johan is very passionate about farming and sustainability, so he is like us! Secondly, truffles are totally fascinating, and so is hunting for them. Third, he served us an array of truffle appetizers and champagne after the hunt!

We learned a great deal about these little fungi, which really are not mushrooms at all. Who knew?

What we learned:

The most revered and expensive truffle in the world is the black winter truffle from France. The white summer truffle is more ubiquitous and often used more in truffle oils found here.

Truffles are darn near impossible to farm because they require strict conditions, plenty of sunlight, consistent watering, winter temperatures above 26 degrees and warm summers with low humidity and loamy soil that drains well. They are not native to many areas, so you won’t find them growing naturally in the US. But these condition all come together perfectly in certain areas of Provence, especially in vineyards.

Truffles rely on oak trees and hazelnut trees to grow, so you will only find them growing below these types of trees, where their spores cling to the root and eventually may produce a truffle if conditions are perfect.

To find a tree that may have truffles growing underneath, look for a circle around the base of the tree where zero grass is growing. If there is grass there will not be a truffle, as they emit an oil or substance that kills that grass below the tree.

They take 7 years to mature.

You can order oak trees with truffle spores on the roots, which is what they did on their farm. However, truffles were already growing naturally for over 100 years on his family farm under the oaks, so they knew conditions were right for farming. Truffles only like direct sunlight.

The olive groves on the farm

Truffles  are only fresh and ready to eat for a few days up to two weeks and lose their fragrance and water weight very day, so shipping them means each day they are out of the ground they are losing flavor and fragrance. A frozen truffle bears little resemblance to a fresh one.

Johan said that 90% of black winter truffle products found in the United States are fake. You can know for sure if what you have is real by reading the ingredient list:  if it includes the term melanospora, it is actual real black truffle. If the label  says”flavor”, it is using chemicals to fool you, and you are paying triple price for it.

The hunt:

Jean Marc’s dogs sniffed a box of tasty treats and immediately knew it was time to begin sniffing around the farm for truffles.  We took them to trees that had no grass , and Mirabelle would identify if there is truffle, sit and then the other dog would begin to feverishly dig. She is trained to dig it up and take it gently in her mouth, but Jean Marc was careful to watch  her to prevent her from destroying it with her claws.

carefully removing a truffle

All you need to do is sniff the dirt to know a truffle has been there because the aroma is so pungent. The truffle should be hard, not spongy.

 

They are sold for about 1 euro per gram. We discovered about 115 grams about 45 minutes!

weighing the truffles

You haven’t lived until you have eaten a fresh black truffle shaved thinly and eaten simply on a slice of bread with cheese or butter. The explosion of flavor and fragrance is unlike anything I have ever tasted.

Here at the farm, they use older truffles to make their truffle salt and truffle oil. The fragrance is so strong that it taints everything in their refrigerator and freezer. Wow!

The best thing I ate in France, right here:

fresh French cheese with shaved black truffle, truffle oil, and truffle salt

truffle ice cream with truffle honey

He  paired all of our tastings with champagne  and it was all included in the tour.

bread topped with fresh butter and shaved black truffle

Please send me a personal email or Facebook message if you are planning a trip to Frnace and would like a tour with Johan. It was my favorite part of our trip and everything is made right here on the farm. You can even ADOPT  A TRUFFLE TREE AND BE SHIPPED FRESH TRUFFLES! Pretty amazing.

And now Larsen and I want to plant a few up on the farm in Virginia as an experiment. What do you think? Should we try it?

 

In love and light,

Lydia

 

Green Bean Tomato Salad

Garden Summer 2015

 

The garden has been exploding with tiny wild cherry tomatoes and jade green beans this year. If I sit quietly, I can see so much activity going on:tiny baby anoles climbing the hop vines, wasps buzzing about the bolting basil, honeybees on the squash flowers, earthworms in the soil.   The single most important thing we have learned gardening each year is to create an environment that attracts beneficial insects like wasps and ladybugs that will ward off pests. So we keep flowers and flowering herbs like salvia, dill, mint, thyme, cilantro and basil mixed in with the vegetable plants to attract the beneficial insects . This year, so far, we have had no aphids or caterpillars. Additionally, we use a copper powder once every two weeks to ward off fungus and blight due to wet conditions.

Now I am not a huge green bean fan, but these beans are different! They are called “jade beans” and seem to just keep on growing more beans for months on end.

We tend to eat really simply in the summer to let the fresh ingredients shine , and this recipe was born from a surplus of beans and tomatoes one night.

If you get your hands on some fresh green beans, then give this one  a try. It will be on the table in 20 minutes!

Happy Summertime.

 

Green Bean Tomato Salad

Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 3 minutes
Total time 13 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Salad, Side Dish

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh green beans
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Bulgarian feta
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions

Step 1
Wash green beans and then bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the beans 2-3 minutes in the hot water and then dunk into a bowl filled with ice cold water.
Step 2
Combine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and mustard in a bowl and whisk until combined.
Step 3
Combine green beans, fresh tomatoes, and feta in a salad bowl and toss with prepared dressing.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Sweet Summertime

I have to say I am thrilled to see my blog is still in existence. I had serious doubts.

I know I dropped off the face of the Earth for 5 months a while . I am not going to apologize anymore because sh* happens. You  forgive me, right?

Why don’t I start when I left off, sometime in March before I started studying for another dreadful exam and had no life for 3 months?

We brought home a package of bees and embarked on a beekeeping adventure with the bee boxes I had bought Larsen for Christmas.   Their population has exploded so much that we have added a 4th box to their hive, which will be slowly filled with honey over the next several months. I have noticed folks are quite curious about them.  Most commonly, people ask how we will actually extract the honey. That, my friends, is done with what is called an extractor, which we will be purchasing shortly. Basically,  after you uncap the wax off of the frame filled with delicious honey (which is covered in wax to keep the honey in), the extractor will spin  the frame to remove the honey. You then filter the honey and jar it. You can actually use every part of the hive in some way, including wax, propolos, honey and royal jelly. Pretty neat!

bees

The garden has been in full swing since April , but sadly the tomatoes have not fared well again due to the rain and bugs and disease. Many of them have black bottoms. I am so disappointed in our tomatoes this year. However as you can see from the photo below, the marigolds, jade green beans , yellow squash and carrots have done amazingly well!

veggies summer 2014

 

On the cooking front,  grilling out fish and veggies has been our summer meal of choice . I thought I would share a recipe I developed with grass fed beef and fresh herbs and cucumbers from the garden. See below for the recipe! It is super fast, fresh, healthy and the perfect meal to cap off a dreadfully hot day because no oven is required.

I am happily back to running, coaching and working out hard, incorporating light weight training at home and power yoga into my week too. It’s great to be back with the crew! Rock N’ Roll Marathon is right around the corner in November, then I will be training for the Charleston Marathon (if I can be convinced to run another full marathon, cough cough), then Cooper River Bridge Run. We have a lot of travel planned for the first half of next year, so  I just hope I can fit everything I want to do in. But travel is another post in itself!

For cross-training, here are 2 of my favorite online workouts so far for the experienced yogini or exerciser, both intermediate/advanced levels. (Please do not try these workouts if you are not familiar with proper weight training form or yoga.) These will kick your butt. Be forewarned. But nothing in life is worth having if you didn’t sweat a little for it, right?

YOGA:

ALI KAMENOVA INTERVAL POWER YOGA-40 MIN

WEIGHT TRAINING(need 5 or 10  pound dumbells):

GYM RA ADVANCED DUMBELL/CARDIO WORKOUT

We are officially boaters now, which was completely unplanned thanks to my wonderful grandfather.  I cannot wait to take friends out on  the boat,  fish, and explore the rivers. We had to drive all the way to Louisiana to get the boat from Pa and celebrate his 87 th birthday with the family for a short but sweet long weekend in Cajun-country.  Much to my  vegetarian friends’ dismay(sorry I am really not sorry) I ate a huge fried oyster po’boy, Zapp’s potato chips, cracklins(which is double fried pork fat dusted with a delicious seasoning), boudin, homemade crawfish etoufee, duck, turtle soup, and coconut pie in  matter of 48 hours. Then we drove home for 16 hours listening to a book on tape . I didn’t want to look at meat for 2 days after that.  Totally Worth It.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pa fishing

Pa and all the ladies in the family!

Pa and all the ladies in the family!

Life is good. Summertime is sweet.

And I missed you guys!

With Love,

Lydia

Mediterranean Burgers with Cucumber Salad

Serves 6-8
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Allergy Milk
Meal type Main Dish, Salad
Occasion Barbecue
This summertime deconstructed burger is a perfectly refreshing meal topped with a light cucumber salad.

Ingredients

  • 2lb grass fed beef
  • 1/2 cup grated onion and juices
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin
  • 1.5 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 cucumbers (peeled and cubed)
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • .5 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
  • 6-8 wedges Naan bread or pita bread
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons pepper

Note

You can buy Naan bread at Whole Foods or make your own! Grass fed beef can be found at your local farmer's markets and specialty grocers.

Directions

Step 1
Combine the grass fed beef, grated onion, cumin and coriander in a large bowl. Add 1 t salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper.
Step 2
Shape beef into patties and grill over medium-high heat until just cooked through and juices run clear. Remember that grass fed beef cooks significantly faster than store-bought beef. Cover with foil and set aside once they are cooked.
Step 3
Combine the yogurt, mayo, olive oil, fresh herbs and cucbmbers in a medium bowl and chill for 20-30 minute.
Step 4
Serve the burgers on top of warm Naan bread topped with a huge helping of cucumber salad.

 

 

 

 

Lately

 

There have been so many moments in the 4.5 month span since I last wrote on this blog when I wanted to just write, to come here and share a recipe I made or a restaurant I visited….but somehow those words never made it to this space.

I suppose it’s a combination of starting a new job and becoming accustomed to studying 10-15 hours a week at home that left me with little time to myself, let alone my blog.

 

The truth is that I have done an awful lot of cooking, some studying,  nearly zero photography, but plenty of living the last few months.

I ran a marathon.

marathon 2

I went to Atlanta for a long weekend and had an incredible meal at Local Three Kitchen and Bar, spent time with family, and ate this at Highland Bakery :

 

Highland Bakery's French Toast

 

I baked this luxurious cake for Christmas Day and lazed around opening way too many presents with my Family feeling very blessed to be there with the man I love.

Gingerbread Cake with Pistachio Topping

 

gingerbread cake

 

We had no less than 4 oyster roasts in a month-long span. I’m not complaining!

 

Larsen cooking oysters

Roasting oysters to perfection and shucking them with friends around a table with a spotlight shining and a fire roaring.

 

Though I had little time for Holiday baking, I carved out a few hours to make homemade marshmallows and dark chocolate almond butter cups.

 

marshmallow creme

This recipe from Smitten Kitchen’s blog made me change my mind about marshmallows. I altered Deb’s recipe slightly with the addition of ground ginger and cinnamon to make it a gingerbread flavor.

 

I have been cooking like a mad woman from this cookbook, Jerusalem, and I MUST share this hummus recipe because it is quite honestly the silkiest, smoothest, most-authentic hummus I have ever made. It requires soaking chickpeas overnight.Other than that, it is a breeze and you will never quite like Sabra hummus again, but you also will never need to buy it again because homemade hummus is twice as cheap. (Scroll down for the recipe!)

jerusalem cookbook

 

Lastly, we have been planning our upcoming trip to Germany/Switzerland/Austria and I am so READY to get out of this country for a couple of weeks of exploration, R&R, skiing in the Alps and stuffing my face with as much schnitzel, smoked salmon, hearty bread, and beer my stomach can handle!

 

FROHES NEUES JAHR! (HAPPY NEW YEAR)

Lydia

 

Silky Smooth Hummus

Serves 8
Prep time 12 hours
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 12 hours, 30 minutes
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Side Dish, Snack
Misc Pre-preparable
Region Moroccan
From book Jerusalem
This silky-smooth, authentic hummus will make you feel like you are dining in a cafe in Jerusalem.

Ingredients

  • 1.25 cups dried chickpeas
  • salt to taste
  • pepper
  • 6.5 tablespoons ice-cold water
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-2 roasted orange or red peppers (jarred is fine)

Note

You can get creative with this and add chopped fresh herbs on top, a drizzle of olive oil, or toasted pine nuts. You could also leave out the roasted pepper completely. The possibilities are endless!

Directions

Step 1
Soak the dried chickpeas in a bowl of water overnight.
Step 2
The next day, drain the chickpeas and simmer on the stove with baking soda for 30-40 minutes until tender, but not mushy. Try to scoop out and skim off as many skins and foam as you can from the surface.
Step 3
Once the chickpeas are cooked, drain them, and throw them into your food processor with the crushed garlic, roasted peppers, water, and tahini and whirl, whirl, whirl until you have a silky-smooth consistency. Add salt to taste and combine again.Serve immediately with warm pita bread. (you can refrigerate it, but let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before eating for the best consistency!)

 

 

 

Farmer’s Market Friday: Simple Squash Soup

Vegetable gardens make me happy. I love getting my hands into the dirt and face close to the ground to investigate what is going on down there. If I look closely and sit very quietly next to a plant for a few minutes, I can see the garden  teeming with life,: wasps, bees, worms, birds, and every once in a while an unwelcome caterpillar. It’ s amazing to me that they all work in such harmony.

our garden

So far our organic and companion planting methods have worked well and the all of the plants except the squash seem happy. I have managed to harvest a few squash, but discovered we have squash vine borers. I awoke this morning after so much rain to see the squash looks even worse than the picture below and most of our plants had to be pulled up. You can see the base of the vine is where the larvae breaks in and destroys it, causing the leaves and stems to wilt and die. . What a pain! Oh, well. Check out some of  the other plants sprouting and flowering!

yellow squash

lettuce

eggplant

 

cucumber

marigolds

 

cherry tomato

 

 

So how do you grow an organic garden without being  invaded by pests?

Pests are inevitable. Prevention is key. Now that we know we will have squash vinve borer problems, we will have to pay closer attention  to prevent the larvae from being hatched!

 1) Companion planting-Try planting beans with cucumbers, basil with tomatoes, chives with peas, peppers  near eggplant, etc. You can read a great article on companion planting from Mother Earth News  HERE.

2) Marigolds everywhere! I plant 2 or 3 different marigold varieties.

3) Keep birds busy with a birdfeeder nearby. Otherwise they may try to eat all of your pretty tomatoes.

4) Attract bees and beneficial insects with other beneficial plants-I planted bee balm and salvia throughout the garden to attract beneficial insects.

5) Prevent squash borers with row covers. Cover the young plants with a very light row cover until they begin to flower. Then uncover them so they can be pollinated. This will prevent moths from laying eggs on the plants. This is a lesson learned for us this year.

5) Keep a garden journal and map out what you planted, how many plants, and where they are situated in the garden. Track how much produce you are getting, how often you fertilize and water, etc. This way you can look back and see what you did right or wrong if pests invade!

I transformed the 5 or 6 squash we harvested into a delicious soup. My mom made me an incredible squash soup last year around this time and I asked her for the recipe. I am not sure where this recipe came from, but it is my get -rid of -copious-amounts-of-squash-recipe.

Simple, refreshing and fast, this soup is the epitome of an easy, summer meal.

I don’t think you can screw up this soup. You can add more cream or any kind of fresh herb to your liking. Just make sure to use yellow summer squash.

In Love and Health,

Lydia

Summer Squash Soup

Serves 6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Meal type Soup
This creamy summer squash soup is a cinch to make with only a few ingredients and 10 minutes of your time!

Ingredients

  • 1 vidalia onion (chopped)
  • 2-3lb yellow squash (sliced thinly)
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 3 tablespoons chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Step 1
Chop vidalia onion. Saute in butter for 5-8 minutes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Meanwhile boil chicken stock. Drop in the chopped squash into the stock and cook 4-5 minutes.
Step 2
Puree the squash, chicken stock, and onion in a food processor until smooth. Add back to the soup pot, and stir in the half and half. Serve warm garnished with chives.

 

A Skinny Banana Bread

Well hello there! I’ve missed you.

Things have been nutzo lately, but finally I have a calm week to sort out  recipes and blog a bit. Big changes are happening over here. I can’t say  much more yet. I can tell you that we are considering adding 2 ducklings to our growing menagerie though. February/March is that time of year I become overly excited about Spring and begin to plan garden beds, order plants and seeds, start seeds, and dream of what else we can add to the homestead to make it more sustainable. Little baby chicks start hatching, the feed and seed store puts out fliers, herbs start sprouting, and my wheels start spinning. Just last night my husband and his buddy spent several hours preparing vegetable seeds for planting, placing them in paper towels dipped in a seaweed fertilizer, into a plastic bag and put into indirect sunlight in our guest bedroom. We are ready for Spring!

The more I research ducks, the more I believe they would be a perfect fit for our urban farm. Did you know khaki campbell ducks lay nearly as many eggs as chickens? I had no idea that ducks could be good layers, but apparently, this specific breed lays eggs throughout the year and can co-habitate with chickens. They are friendly, enjoy splashing in mud and water(umm we live on a marsh!), and are a domesticated, non-flying breed.

photo from backyardchickens.com

photo from backyardchickens.com

Long story short, I want some.

I also want a piece of this banana bread  right now.

banana bread skinny

Banana bread is really a breakfast cake, not a health food. It usually contains sugar, butter/oil and flour and very little of the healthy stuff, bananas. Why use butter and sugar when you can make a delicious bread without them? Even Paula Deen is catching on (finally) after her diabetes scare.

In this recipe whole wheat flour replaces white flour, orange juice replaces the sugar, and overly- ripe  bananas replace nearly all the fat.

I eat mine for breakfast spread with almond butter and a side of fruit or as a pre-run snack!

Happy eating!

I will update you on the duck situation soon. I hope to have 2 cute little balls of fluff soon, but may end up with 5 balls of fluff because that’s usually the minimum order number. Would anyone want a few ducklings?

Skinny Banana Bread

Serves 8
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 10 minutes
Allergy Egg, Peanuts, Wheat
Meal type Breakfast, Snack
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable
Try this naturally -sweetened and ultra-moist skinny banana bread for a light breakfast or snack.

Ingredients

  • 3 bananas (very ripe)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 egg (large)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 can organic garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions

Step 1
Blend the chickpeas, bananas, peanut butter and egg in a food processor until smooth.
Step 2
Pour the banana mixture into a bowl. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients.
Step 3
Stir dry ingredients into the wet mixture and pour into a parhcment-paper lined loaf pan.
Step 4
Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. (may require a bit longer-test the center for doneness).

 

 

Change

I like marching onward in life , and embracing change as it comes…..but please please don’t ask me to change my daily routine. Go DANCING on a Thursday night until 2 in the morning when I have to get up at 5 a.m.? Yeah right. Spontaneously put aside my scheduled blogging time or  workout time? fuggetaboutit.

I need to work on that. I don’t enjoy that last minute change. Old lady over here.

But bringing home more chickens?

I like that change.

I picked up five fluffy little chicks and brought them to their new heated home in our shed.The Orpington, which I immediately dubbed “Orpie”, is a buff color, and she is showing her behind in the photo above because she is camera shy. If you are curious about this breed, you can read more here. The other four speckled chicks are Barred Rocks, and you can read more about the breed here.  I can already see these breeds are much more calm than our Ameraucaunas, and I have heard wonderful things about both breeds as family pets in terms of their friendliness and egg-laying reliability.

Another HUGE change for us is coming in December (fingers -crossed). We are closing on a new home  and  if all works out, will be moving 2 turtles, 5 fish, 2 dogs, 1 kitten, 5 chickens ,5 chickies, and 1 man to a bigger and better yard! I cannot wait! I have been stuffing myself with too much food in anticipation.

Besides dreaming about the new house and not running much, I made this pumpkin butter and cannot help slathering it on everything.

This is the perfect gift to bring your new neighbors with a hunk of hearty bakery bread, or you can keep it all to yourself and spoon into your oatmeal, onto a sliced banana, bread, and even use it in a dessert.

Expect many delicious Holiday recipes on this  blog in the coming months,but  made-over to include nutritious ingredients and less sugar!

To Your Health

Lydia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next best thing to being in Italy

Hello from the dark depths of Tropical Storm Beryl, or as I like to call it the hypothetical- storm- that- forced- us- to-  cancel- our- weekend- kayaking- and- cycling- trip- and has- yet- to- produce- one- freaking -rain -drop. I’m not bitter. Not at all.

We have power. Blue skies. A little wind.No rain. And a whole lotta food. It’s been a cooking week here on the urban farm. I am up to my neck in squash and tomatoes in our garden, which I feel so blessed to know came straight from the dirt we cultivated and has no pesticides in it. It’s yummy!

The past week was truly special because I had the pleasure of attending a cooking class on Mediterranean fare by chef, Robin Asbell….right after a stomach virus, so the food tasted extra delicious because I was starving! The timing could not have been more perfect, because lately I cannot stop daydreaming about my trip 2 years ago today to Italy with all of these fresh tomatoes, basil, rosemary, and zucchini around the house.

For the next few weeks, I will be cooking up  Italian dishes because Thursday night’s  class  with Robin brought back so many memories of my own . It inspired me to not only try a few of her recipes, but re-create a few I learned myself at an Agriturismo in Tuscany and Cinque Terre.  Love:-)

Robin Asbell and I are so much alike in a myriad of ways.  Of course, I contained my excitement in the class with a serious face, but I was secretly jumping around  on the inside. That’s just how I am. My emotions are much better put on paper…

Not only is she a whiz on food history and politics (my senior project in college was about the effect of the Industrial Revolution on our food system in the U . S. ..Go food nerds.! ), but she is  a proponent of eating real foods. And if you have read this blog lately, that’s my cup- of- tea, my passion ,and my forte.

Other similarities between her and I include baking with  sucanat and coconut oil , cooking with  grass-fed butter, and memorizing random food facts that most people would never know. And what recipe did I just post on my blog a week before her class?!

A recipe that includes grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and sucanat.Whoa.

She is a famous chef who writes for Clean Eating, and I, well, I write to keep my sanity and to keep Larsen from falling asleep at the dinner table whenever I am telling him about what is in the dish I just cooked and the entire history of it. And you know what, she admitted that is why she writes, too?

I feel almost normal.

As Robin pointed out and I agree, simple foods that po’ folks eat  and grow is usually the healthiest. In sleepy Tuscany,where agriturismos grace the landcape, old grandmothers  churn their  own  butter from their grass-fed cows , pick  only a few, fresh ingredients and turn it into something flavorful and healthy, just as their grandmothers did, and are able to create a dish from whatever is on hand. Where did this knowledge go in the U.S.??

Oh yes, that’s right, we have factories and food scientists that  make our food now. And fast food joints. And chain restaurants. Boo.

I prefer the Italian way of life, which takes quality ingredients straight from the ground, includes Omega 3’s,vitamins, and minerals, and requires  just a touch of preparation to be transformed into a flavorful meal.

Let’s get to the food already, specifically Robin’s  “Chickpea Fritters with Romesco Sauce”.

Oh, dear God , who would have thought you could elevate a chickpea to that level?

I love chickpeas. I eat  hummus everyday, but never had I imagined what a bit of romesco sauce could do when set  into bed with a chickpea. A union of the Gods.

I  made a few changes to her recipe today, sauteed  ’em up, and served them to the man. He could not contain the groans of delight. This recipe is low-cost, easy, and delicious!

I bought Robin’s book The New Whole Grains Cookbook and could not be more satisifed with the recipes. A cookbook comprised of dishes made only with whole grains, and  no white flour in sight? I’m in heaven.

She also has a few other cookbooks including Big Vegan and the The New Vegetarian, both of which I plan to order in the next few months. Lastly, Robin has a blog, called Robin Asbell’s The New Vegetarian.

I tweaked her recipe to include fresh feta, coriander, and fried capers! Enjoy!

 

And look for Italy Part I & II cooking class stories  in the near future on 2 Blue Eggs .

 

If you care at all about what is going on in the agriculture world or about the future of GMO’s, I just read an informative and interesting article by Mother Earth News.

If you don’t know what GMO’s are, we can’t be friends. OK, just kidding..Kinda. 

Chickpea Patties with Romesco Sauce

Serves 8
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Allergy Tree Nuts
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan
Meal type Appetizer, Main Dish, Snack
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Lydia D. recipe adapted from author Robin Asbell
Crunchy, smoky, and flavorful, these Chickpea Patties with Romesco Sauce are a flavorful vegetarian /vegan meal or appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 1 jar capers (drained)

For the Patties

  • 1.5 cups canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cups garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (fine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 cups fresh spinach (chopped)
  • 6 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1.5 cups olive oil
  • 4 green onions (chopped finely)

For the Patties (Optional)

  • 1/2 cup feta or haloumi cheese (crumbled)

Romesco Sauce

  • 6 medium slices baguette (inch thick, cubed)
  • 1 cup almonds (slivered, unsalted)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 red peppers (roasted, skin-removed)
  • salt (to taste)
  • water (to desired consistency)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra as needed)
  • 3 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
  • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Note

These can be vegan and still delicious if you leave out the feta cheese!

Also,  warm cooked patties  in a 200 degree oven to serve  later.

Directions

For the Patties
Step 1
Prep-Wilt the spinach in a pan. Set aside spinach and in large frying pan , add olive oil and set aside. Layer paper towels on a large plate for the cooked patties.
Step 2
In large bowl whisk together flour, water, salt, coriander and set aside for 1 hour.
Romesco Sauce
Step 3
In another fry pan, saute the slivered almond and baguette for 5 minutes or until browned at medium-high heat.
Step 4
Blend together the toasted almond and baguette and chopped garlic in a food processor until just blended. Add red peppers, parsley and paprikas and process so it makes a paste. Add vinegar and salt and olive oil. Then add water to your desired consistency.
For the Patties
Step 5
Add wilted spinach, garlic, baking soda, and lastly the chickpeas to the batter after it has been sitting for an hour.
Step 6
Heat the oil on medium-high in the pan until a test drop of batter sizzles. Drop batter in 1/4 C spoonfuls into hot oil, cook 3 minutes each side and turn heat down to medium. Cook until patties are browned each side and bubbly. Remove and let drain on paper towels. After all fritters have been cooked, dump the drained capers in hot oil and saute for 1 minute. Remove and let drain on paper. Serve patties with fresh romesco sauce and capers.

 

To Your Health and Fitness,

Lydia D.

 

 

 

 

What I Am Loving Lately

Can we just pretend it is April 1st again, please? Because somehow the entire month has passed by so quickly that I have yet to post about Easter eats, my birthday eats, the actual Boston Marathon, and all that other stuff that has happened in between. Somehow in all that hoopla I forgot my best friend’s birthday, made a batch of  cookies that never rose, then made a batch of super-flat muffins, and had a few nice runs. It all balances out I guess, the good and the bad.

This is a “What I am Loving Lately Post” because there is  a great deal to love about April, namely..

1) Working in the garden and planting veggies before it becomes too ding-dang hot. It is  incredible to watch a seedling transform into a monster tomato plant in just 6 weeks. I eagerly watch them everyday, how they change and grow, and those things literally grew an inch a day for while. Is this how raising a human baby feels, with less crying and poo?

We grow everything organically and currently grow 4 types of tomatoes, 4 types of squash, onions, shallots, eggplant, bellpeppers, lemons, key limes, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, oranges, and a host of herbs. Marigolds planted around the perimeter keep off pests!

 

 

2) This adorable reusable bag to adorn yourself with at  the farmer’s market . This is waaaay cooler than anything you have seen. Promise! Inside the front pocket you will find 2 re-usable, matching grocery bags.

 

Then, look inside and , BAM, you have a whole other galaxy, the cooler. But that’s not all. ANOTHER adorable clip-on fabric wallet that holds…you guessed it…another re-usable bag. This is starting to sound like an infomercial.

 

Now, you won’t ever be  the dodo that forgets your reusable bag at the farmer’s market, has to endure hippies staring at you in disbelief as you grab yet another plastic bag and sheepishly carry them all to your car hoping no one notices..oh and then one breaks and you have to frantically collect rogue tomatoes rolling between people’s feet..not that that happened to me or anything.

3) This cookbook from Back in The Day Bakery.

It is FAR from healthy, so very far, sigh,  ….but I plan on tweaking the recipes so you can enjoy them without concern that you just gained a pound from that cookie. Sweets are not healthy, but you CAN include nutritious ingredients rather than eat a nutritionally-empty calorie bomb as an occasional treat.

I ran home to make the lemon loaf from the book, and mine below turned out pretty incredible. So. good. people.

 

 

4) Local Strawberries, used in this cake I made for Easter.  Yes, friends,  two cakes in one post, because there has been more cake eating than usual this  month! Back to local strawberries, which  are tiny, super-sweet, and bear little resemblance to those gargantuan ones at the grocery store. Give them a try! You can use them in so many healthy ways, such as smoothies, yogurt parfaits, just for snacking, and of course for baking!

I used Southern Living’s Strawberry Mousse Cake recipe, but changed the outside frosting recipe to include lemon zest and juice.

5)  New running kicks, Asics GelNeo 33. In case you did not know, I work in the running business, so , I will most likely have some shoe reviews here. I will tell you the honest truth ,too if I do not like them.

 

I have to say I love these. I have only ever run in the Asics Kayanos, but lately those have felt heavy. These feel lighter, and they are grey, which means they will show less dirt.  I need a bit of support for my feet, so these work perfectly and they are pretty eye-catching.

 

Just so you know, I was not paid to review anything in this post. These are just some of my faves from April that I felt I should share.

Coming up tomorrow, a healthy and filling farmer’s market -fresh pasta salad.