Paprika, oregano, cumin, lime... all favorites of mine. And with all that flavor I can almost justify leaving the butter off the popcorn. Maybe.
You can read the whole recipe here at shutterbean.com. And while I'm talking about it, have you listened to the Joy The Baker Podcast with, uh... Joy The Baker and Tracy from Shutterbean.com? It's a "Seinfeld-esque" show, not really about anything in particular, just whatever is on their minds. Listen to one and if you're intrigued, go to the very first and catch up. There are so many inside jokes that started back in the earlier podcasts but get funnier and funnier over time.
I have an exciting weekend planned of reorganizing my storage unit. I know, how is one to endure so much happiness? I'll try but I hope you have something infinitely more fun planned, enjoy your weekend!!
I promised you something special this week due to my vanishing act last Friday. Because I love ya, here we go:
You might remember a few weeks past when I posted this photo:
That is a gorgeous crepe that I ate in Port Townsend last month when I went to visit my Wonder Twin:
We don't know how it happened, but we were separated at birth.
Wonder Twin, her daughters and I each ordered this Mediterranean Crepe for lunch at a seaside cafe' in Port Townsend (sorry, I don't remember the name right now). I ate every last bit. In fact, I was completely fascinated by it. I took pictures of it. I opened it up so I could inspect all the ingredients. And then I came home and tried to copy it. And you know what? I did it! I promise I will share the whole dang thing with you as soon as it's perfected. Soon, very soon.
But one of the by-products of all that testing was another recipe that popped into my little brain: a pork loin stuffed with a Mediterranean inspired filling. Again, I'm still perfecting that recipe. I haven't nailed down the cooking temperature on the pork loin but I have to admit, it is delicious whether I overcook the pork or not.
How cruel is that, to tell you about delicious recipes and not give them to you. Sorry. I just want it to be perfect for you.
However, I CAN share the filling with you because it's simple and works as wonderfully inside a whole wheat tortilla or pita bread as it does inside a butterflied pork loin.
Here's your cast of characters:
half a bunch of parsley (about 3/4 cup)
lightly toasted pine nuts (about 1/4 cup)
sun dried tomato (about 1/4 cup) AND some of the oil it's packed in (about 2 Tablespoons)
3-4 oz of crumbled feta cheese
capers (about 2 Tablespoons)
a dash of black pepper
a drizzle of olive oil (if needed)
Stuff all these ingredients into a small food processor and give it several pulses. Don't let it run because although you want it well combined, you still want to maintain a little texture. We are not making baby food.
If it looks a little dry, you can either drizzle in some more oil from the jar of sun dried tomatoes OR a little olive oil. Check for salt and pepper. The mixture should be salty enough from the feta and capers but if you like it saltier, add a little more.
Next, toast up some pita halves OR whole wheat tortillas and shmear about 2 Tablespoons of mixture inside.
Eat. And enjoy. Because you will love it.
I've made a batch of this filling and snacked on it for a couple days. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I wonder if we have any feta at home....
My friend Lynnie just introduced me to the app/website "How Stuff Works" and my nerdiness is satisfied. They have podcasts on subject themes such as Stuff You Missed In History Class, Stuff Mom Never Told You, and The Coolest Stuff On The Planet. The shows are informative but clever and humorous. If you have a long car trip or a long ride on the stationary bike coming up you will be entertained!
Happy Friday!! I'm so happy to see the weekend, I've got a lot to accomplish including getting my cherry tomato and basil plants in the dirt. I've already harvested the basil once, still in the flimsy pots they came in. It's going to be a good growing year, I just know it!
I've told you about my Uncle, right? The one that shows up with the most random food items you can think of. Wednesday I came home from work to find a branch off of a Rainier cherry tree sitting on the kitchen counter. My uncle had brought it down to show how well the cherries were already ripening. Of course I couldn't resist eating most of the cherries off of that branch, I'm quite certain that's what he intended for me to do. And it instantly reminded me of a recipe from Sprouted Kitchen that I had seen on Pinterest.
If you didn't grow up on a cherry farm like I did you might need a little info on Rainiers. A Rainier cherry is a reddish-yellow-orange cherry and is a cross between a Bing and a Van (not a Queen Ann as some might think). The more sunshine the cherry sees, the more blushed it will become. They are a hardy cherry, plump and sweet.
This Rainier Cherry Muddler Recipe from Sprouted Kitchen very smartly pairs the cherry with lemon basil, which keeps the flavors light and refreshing. It will be a perfect drink after a hot day of gardening. And I know just where to find some more cherries! If you can't find Rainiers, I would try a Queen Ann cherry (yellow) or whatever fresh cherries you have available in your local markets.
I promised you a two-fer so here it goes: we had another impromptu gathering this week and everyone was starving hungry so I perused the refrigerator to see what kind of Last Minute Pasta I could throw together this time. Unfortunately, there was a shortage of cheese, only a hunk of Parmesan. But I spied some bacon and that got my wheels spinning... I had just bought some basil plants so I ran outside and plucked a bunch of basil leaves... we had white wine... yep, I could make this work!
I'm not going to get too detailed but in case you find yourself needing to feed a small group you might take some inspiration from this week's Last Minute Pasta.
about 1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmesan (plus a little more at the end)
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn at the last minute
butter, 3 pats
splash of white wine
I set the pasta to boil then got cracking on the rest of the ingredients. I cooked my bacon, drained off the excess grease on a paper towel then chopped it into little bits and I grated my Parmesan. Back to the pan that bacon was cooked in, I drained off most of the grease and added a splash of white wine (maybe 3-4 tablespoons) and cooked that down a little over medium heat so the bacon bits would pick up from the bottom. After the pasta was done I drained it and reserved about 1 cup of the cooking water. I put the drained pasta back in the pot and dumped in all the other ingredients, tearing the basil and dumping that in as well. At this point I checked for texture and sauce. It needed to be loosened up a bit so I added most of the pasta water and a drizzle of olive oil and gave it all a big stir. It still was missing a little... something.... so in went about 3 pats of butter, stirred some more. I added just a little more Parmesan and black pepper and it was done!
I realize it was all a little unconventional, but hey, we make do! I fed 7 people in less than 1/2 hour. Not a bit was left.
Chickens. It seems there is a lot to say on the subject these days:
Because we eat a lot of chicken in this country. It's a cheap source of protein.
Because I happen to really like chicken. It's easy to cook, it freezes well and it takes on flavors well.
There appears to be a lot of confusion on what types of chickens & eggs we should be purchasing. Do you definitively know the difference between a Cage-Free and Free-Range bird? I thought I did.
Are we treating the animal ethically? And does that treatment effect the food we ingest?
Let me start by saying, I don't really want to get on a soap box and give you a new religion disguised as responsible food or organics or whatever the latest catch-phrases are. I'm just talking... common sense here. I'm a consumer, I cook chicken, I want to be an eater armed with knowledge. I don't presume to have all the answers but a little research and a little experience has taught me a few things.
I had the good fortune to be raised on a fruit farm, smack in the middle of an orchard where we (at least for my earliest years) raised chickens. My mom and I got up every morning in our cotton night gowns (that she sewed. It was very Little House On The Prairie) and walked barefoot behind our house to feed the chickens and collect eggs. Only the rooster was a little cranky, the hens were friendly as can be. Our chickens had their own "coop" although I don't know why we called it a coop because it was more like the chicken-strip-mall. The sucker was huge.
Those birdies had all the shelter they needed in the coop, and they needed it badly because coyotes are also free-range out where I come from. But the chickens were also free to come and go outside the coop searching for seeds, bugs, worms and whatever else caught their eye. Which meant they wandered into the orchards, the road, my Grandma's flower gardens and Mom's flower beds. The latter reasons may be why one day all the chickens disappeared. But our chickens lived the life they were meant to live: sheltered, well fed and free as a... bird.
So when I watched Food Inc. and saw how the larger modern day chicken processors are caring for their birds I, like the rest of you, was horrified. And some of the backlash of this film was people started demanding that the chicken they purchased in stores be raised "cage-free". Then the buzz word became "free-range." But what do those words really mean when I'm standing in front of the meat counter picking out a roaster? Turns out, not much. If you want to get a quick and painless education on it please watch this video I stumbled on today from "The Lexicon of Sustainability."
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/30716968 w=400&h=300]
Now, I will tell you that buying your chicken (to eat) from a smaller farmer, pasture-raised will cost more. But how about starting smaller: try buying your eggs from a local chicken farmer. Today, all sorts of people are raising small flocks of chickens and will sell you their extra eggs for a reasonable price. I'm betting if you pay close attention next time you drive to your local grocery store, you'll see signs for fresh eggs somewhere along the way.
Or maybe you have some outdoor space and would like to raise a couple chickens of our own. It just so happens that my Wonder Twin (aka: Serena) owns a great site called Uptown Coops that can give you tons of information on raising chickens in your own backyard. She knows because she has a small flock of her own in her front yard in the Pacific Northwest. I met them all (the chickens) recently, and they are lovely gals. Two of them are pictured above with Audrey & Esther.
Uptown Coops specializes in affordable, eco-friendly coop kits that are also completely non-toxic. And they're cute! Uptown Coops can help supply you with what you need to set up a happy, healthy home for your own chickens and soon you'll have delicious, fresh eggs of your own.
Whether you start a brood of your own, or you continue to by your chicken/eggs at a store, just be mindful of where it's coming from and how it was raised. It really does make a difference.
I know y'all get sick of hearing about how busy I have been, how I don't currently have a reliable internet or cell phone connection, how I have a lot to post and just can't seem to get it done... so I won't bore you with that schtick again this week.
BUT... I will tell you that there has been a Pioneer-Woman-Lollapalooza going on out in my neck of the woods. My sister-in-law has made more Pioneer Woman recipes in the last 2 weeks than I have made ever! And it has been TASTY, let me tell ya. Here are some of the recipes that have passed over our taste buds lately:
Blackberry Cobbler- I'm not sure this technically qualifies as a cobbler but technically I don't care! It is so darn delicious!!
Steak Sandwich- It's easier to make than you might think and because it's made with cube steak it pretty economical.
Yesterday my SIL made the dish you see pictured above, Beans with Cornbread. What my SIL couldn't have known is that my mother used to make beans with cornbread and it was a favorite weekend meal at our little country home. Smokey, garlicky beans with hearty, only slightly sweet cornbread (generously slathered in butter of course)... this is the food of my childhood. Beans & cornbread is such a normal, everyday meal in country cooking that mom never bothered to write down her recipe, not for the beans anyway. So I was thrilled to find that Pioneer Woman's version is almost identical to my moms. It was a big hit, there was barely 2 cups worth of beans left over and zero cornbread left over.
You might be thinking that with the winter months behind us this meal might be too warm to eat in the summer but it's so not true. Ask any good Mexican cook (or you can ask a 1/2 Mexican cook like myself!), eating hot foods in the hot weather will cool you down. I think it's all the sweating. Ew, sorry. But try it anyway and you'll see I"m right!
Beans and cornbread is an easy meal that simmers away on the stove so you can still get your weekend projects done and have a glorious meal waiting for you at the end of the day. Don't feel bad about cheating a little if you need to buy your cornbread from your grocer's bakery or get one of those Jiffy or Marie Calendar's mixes. I won't tell.