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!)

 

 

 

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).

 

 

Flourless Chocolate Chip Blondies

We once had a small, dirty, skinny dog last year appear at our house, walk in the front door, and act like he owned the place. We tried to feed him both wet and dry dog food, and he absolutely refused. I must have offered him 10 different things before I discovered the only food he loved was peanut butter. I fed him peanut butter 3 times a day. ..Henceforth we called him “Peanut” and he stole our hearts with his snuggly cuteness, and we had decided to keep him..and one day, after living with us over a month, he disappeared.  I was worried sick about him and found him being walked by his overjoyed owner 3 days later.

907e1cbcc9bb11e1b2fe1231380205bf_7

His name was apparently  “Oreo”. He will always be my  li’l Peanut though. I enjoy seeing his  owner walking him every once in a while because he  still perks up and wags his tail when I say “Peanut”!

The reason I tell this story is that today is an incredibly important day among American Holidays. If it were up to me, we would all have the day off and eat these blondies together with some milk(or in my case Almond milk).

It’s NATIONAL PEANUT BUTTER DAY !

We go through 1 jar per week, minimum. This week  the jar ran out on Tuesday. We bought it Sunday. Something is wrong with that, really but my excuse is I have been cooking and baking with nut butter lately.

choc chip blondies

These blondies have zero refined sugar,  flour, or butter and taste peanutty.

You might be surprised at the ingredient list, but I will let you discover what’s inside on your own …hehehe.

Flourless Chocolate Chip Blondies

Serves 24
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Allergy Egg, Peanuts
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Dessert, Snack
These healthy flourless chocolate chip blondies have a hidden secret ingredient, but you won't guess what it is!

Ingredients

  • 1 can organic garbanzo beans (drained)
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or agave nectar (or a bit more according to your tastebuds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Note

You can replace the peanut butter with almond butter here with good results.

Directions

Step 1
Combine the drained chickpeas, peanut butter, and all other ingredients EXCEPT chocolate chips in a food proccessor or blender.
Step 2
Stir the batter to make sure everything is incorporated, toss in the chocolate chips, and pour the batter into a greased 8 x8 or 9X9 inch pan.
Step 3
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

 

 

 

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.