Saturday, December 3, 2016

Meyer Lemon Sidecar



It's citrus season here in Houston, Texas, just in time for the holidays. At the top of my "favorite" list is the Meyer Lemon.  Lemon chicken, lemon pizza, lemon vinaigrette, lemon curd, lemon water... and Meyer Lemon Sidecars.  YES.  If you want to get in the holiday spirit too, make these.  Now.  Fa la la la la la la la la.


Meyer Lemon Sidecar
Ingredients:
1 ounce Meyer Lemon juice
2 ounces brandy
1 ounce Cointreau
Meyer Lemon slices
sugar

Cut a slice of lemon and rub along the rim of your glass.  Place sugar on a plate and coat the rim of the glass.  Place the glass in the freezer.  To a shaker or mason jar, add the lemon juice, brandy, and Cointreau. Add ice and shake for a few seconds.  Strain into your glass and add a slice of lemon.  Crank the Christmas music up, kick back on the porch, and enjoy!


Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer Supper Salad with grilled peaches, shishito peppers, chicken, sweet corn and feta


There is beauty in a summer salad that comes together naturally.  Whether from your own garden, farmer's market or bushel, ingredients that are in season together often make the nicest partnerships. Juicy and full-of-flavor Texas peaches, smokey blistered Shisito peppers and sweet summer corn join hands across a bed of Buttercrunch plus mixed lettuces.  Add lemony grilled chicken breast and salty feta and it's a knock out simple, summer supper.




Summer Supper Salad with grilled peaches, shishito peppers, chicken, sweet corn and feta

Ingredients:
(Serves 2, Main Course)
2 peaches, halved, pit removed
shishito peppers, about a quart
1 ear sweet corn on the cob
1/4 cup feta
lettuce mix 
2 chicken breast cutlets
1 lemon
1 clove garlic
grapeseed oil

Marinate the chicken in the juice and zest of one lemon, crushed garlic and grapeseed oil for at least 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Grill  chicken 3 minutes, then rotate 1/4 turn for another 3 minutes.  Flip and repeat on other side.  Rub cut side of peach halves with grapeseed oil and place on grill, cut side down, for 3 minutes.  Toss shishito peppers in grapeseed oil, pinch of salt and place in a grill basket.  Grill, tossing every couple of minutes, until blistered (about 5 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is).  If your corn is fresh and sweet, you can cut it straight from the cob, or place it on the grill with the rest.  Arrange the lettuce mix, peaches, and shishito on the plate. Add sliced chicken breast.  Scatter on the feta and sweet corn.  Dress with your favorite dressing and devour.



Sunday, July 3, 2016

Fizzy Watermelon Agua Fresca


Cool things on hot days.  Summertime... We're feeling it in Houston, Texas. Hot. And don't forget humid.  The objective these days is to think up all things cooool—like this fizzy watermelon aqua fresca.  If you are looking for a way to use your leftover watermelon from your 4th of July celebration, this is it!

I made these a couple of weeks ago for the kids in gardening class, and they loved them!  It was an especially fun way to enjoy a seasonal tasting, and relate it to what's actually growing in the garden right now.


Little Baby Flower Watermelon, small enough to trellis if you have limited gardening space.


The "girls" at the school garden enjoy any garden tasting "leftovers," and come running when we've got bits of cucumber or tomato.  



The girls show their gratitude by delivering the best, fresh eggs.


Fizzy Watermelon Agua Fresca

Ingredients:
watermelon chunks
cold water
honey
lime
sparkling water

Fill up your blender with watermelon chunks, add one cup of cold water, a squidge of honey and the juice from 1/2 a lime.  Blend up until smooth.  Pour the mixture through a fine strainer, removing any pulp or seeds.  When you are ready to serve, pour the watermelon juice into your favorite glass and add sparkling water to your taste.  Enjoy!  




Tuesday, May 10, 2016

tomato celebration toast


Tomato season! This makes me so happy, y'all. And so does this thick slice of multi-grain toast, topped with a smear of chevre and juicy, red slices of Arkansas Traveler tomatoes, sprinkled with a confetti of coarse sea salt and black pepper.  Now that's downright gloriously simple goodness.  I could eat this every single day.  And, during tomato season, often do just that.

One of the really beautiful things about eating home grown or locally grown produce according to the season is the actual anticipation of each season.

Around mid-February every year here in central Houston, I set up my tomato plants.  I dig my hole, mix in MicroLife, add a teaspoon of rock phosphate and carefully tuck the tomato plant into the soil.  I tenderly envelop her in a wall of water, or set the cage and wrap with frost cloth to create a warm and safe place for her, protected from the wind and elements.  I do this multiple times over for each plant.  I wait, and I watch as they grow. Peeking in the little makeshift greenhouses around each plant, watching them get bigger and stronger.  Once the Ides of March pass and the winds settle, it's off with their protective shields and out into the bright, warm sunshine.  I wait and watch some more.  Until, usually near the beginning of May, I spot the first color on the Sweet Chelsea cherry tomatoes, and I know it has finally arrived.  Tomato bliss—on the precipice of full-on tomato season.

The garden team at our community donation garden also love watching the tomatoes grow into "trees," and anticipate their arrival—knowing they will help provide bountiful harvests for our neighbors in need via the food pantry.  





My mouth starts to water and I have crazy tomato dreams,  thinking about all the tasty bites coming soon.

Like these butter cracker fried green tomatoes using green Early Girl tomatoes...



for this Butter Cracker Fried Green Tomato Salad



And, please, don't forget the Caprese... with bright red Celebrity tomatoes...


For me, the Caprese always initiates a time-shift a few years back to the most perfect Caprese on the most perfect girls trip to Italy...


and this must-have Aperol Spritz...



One of my favorite varieties is a large cherry tomato, called Sweet Chelsea.. it's super productive, and reliable.


So good in this loaded salad lunch...


The big, beautiful Brandywine heirloom has the loveliest pink blush!























So here we are.  It's May, and we're ready to celebrate the season, and start it out with this simple tomato celebration toast.   Come late July, we'll likely have had our fill of tomatoes—until next season, that is.  We'll be well on our way to craving the next season's crop by then. And therein lies the beauty.
Let the games begin!



Friday, April 8, 2016

Spring Bushel Salad

When Mother Nature and local farmers get together, the recipe writes itself.  


I opened this week's bushel,  and the reddest, sweetest, tastiest Texas strawberries teamed up with greeeeeeeeeen sugar snap peas, spring lettuce blend and a handful of mint from the garden.  They then hollered for some walnuts and a simple balsamic vinaigrette and called it done.

I had the nicest Friday, listening to some impactful percussion honoring upcoming global Earth day (I got so carried away the beans broke loose from my tambourine), making garden instruments, sharing fellowship discussing Ecology curriculum for the school garden, and enjoying fresh-from-the-garden potluck creations.

I can't think of a more pleasant way to usher in the weekend.


Spring Bushel Salad
Ingredients:
strawberries
sugar snap peas
spring lettuce mix
handful of mint
handful of walnuts
balsamic vinaigrette

Create your palette by resting your lettuce blend in a shallow bowl.  Next, add sliced strawberries, sugar snap peas (sliced on the diagonal to show off all those handsome peas inside that pod), a handful of toasted walnuts, and a handful of garden mint.  Finally, toss with a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

For the vinaigrette:  Add to a jelly jar 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil (I use 1/2 cup), 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, a squidge of dijon mustard, squidge of honey, one grated clove of garlic and salt and pepper to taste.  Shake, shake, shake. Call it done.

Happy Weekend!



Thursday, March 24, 2016

Grandma's Barbecue Sauce


I have vivid and really fond memories of summers as a child at my grandparents houses in Austin County, Texas.  There were cows, dogs, tractors, fishing, lots of imaginative play in the pasture and woods, and huge feasts!  Whether it was Papa frying his famous fish or oysters with homemade tarter sauce (often followed by Granny's dewberry cobbler), or Grandpa firing up his old barrel barbecue, we were always in for serious treats.


Barbecues were no small thing. They were often elaborate and included all varieties of fresh meat—mutton, pork, beef, chicken and sausage.  I can still picture Grandpa in his overalls these many years later, mop rag in hand, lovingly saucing all the meat as it slow-cooked on the pit.

Our meat-centric nephew (who today enjoys the tractor and the farm as much as we did when we were that age) would have fit right in at these gatherings.  Of course, there were plenty of home-grown vegetables that would have satisfied our veggie-loving niece, too.


Summers always promised a number of large pit community barbecues, including the Father's Day barbecue at the Dance Hall in Milheim—an annual favorite since the 1890s.  These were times for generations to come together and share a meal in fellowship.  We had such a great time at these community events, and made a quick trip back this year.





Though it was way too hot, and our stay this year was very brief, it's always nice to watch friends who haven't seen each other in many years reconnecting, and we plan to gather the whole family for another one in the not-too-distant (and hopefully less hot) future.



Dad recalls attending often when he was young (Coushatta Hall, Milheim and Cat Spring), and likes to tell the story about how he earned the money for his FFA project thanks to these community events.  When he was about 14 years old, he wanted to buy a lamb to raise.  Coushatta Hall held dances on Saturday night and barbecues on Sunday where they sold beer in bottles.  They charged a nickel deposit on each bottle. Folks would take their beer to the parking lot to drink it, and either toss the bottles or abandon them on the tables there.  Dad and his buddy collected the bottles and returned them to the beer sales stall to claim the deposit.  After enough days gathering time, he earned close to $20 and used that money to buy his lamb.  



At the Milheim barbecue, everything is served up family-style, and includes pickles, onions, beans, potatoes, white bread—and ooooh, that perfect vinegary sauce, or barbecue gravy, that just can't be beat—and a glass of tea to wash it all down. Diners stand around tall tables under the shade of big trees to eat, visit, and listen to the Czech and German polka music that's always playing. 


When my sister and I were kids, one of our favorite delights at the barbecue was the cake walk.  Grandpa always won a cake, and we always asked him to pick the German Chocolate to take home!  No luck winning this year, but it was fun putting down our 50 cents for a try.


video

We'd come home stuffed, satisfied and exhausted.  But not too tired or too full for a slice of german chocolate cake with ice cream and a lazy game of dominoes in the slight cool of the evening on the screened-in porch.

We have recipes for both our Granny's and our Grandma's sauce.  This one is mostly Grandma's with some adaptations from Granny's recipe too.  Granny used a potato masher to break down the onions as the sauce bubbled down, so that's what I do too.  The smell of this vinegary sauce simmering on the stovetop takes me right back to my childhood.

Grandma's Barbecue Sauce




Ingredients:
3/4 stick butter, melted
1 T olive oil
2 onions, diced
3 fat cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
a few drops Tabasco
3 T cider vinegar
2 t chilli powder
2 t smoked paprika
2 1/4 c water
2 T brown sugar
1 T worchestershire
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t pepper
1 tsp dry mustard

Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer for at least an hour.  While the sauce simmers, use a potato masher to help break down the onions.  Season whatever meat you're grilling with salt and pepper, and mop with this sauce throughout the cooking process.



Grandma's Barbecue Sauce


I have vivid and really fond memories of summers as a child at my grandparents houses in Austin County, Texas.  There were cows, dogs, tractors, fishing, lots of imaginative play in the pasture and woods, and huge feasts!  Whether it was Papa frying his famous fish or oysters with homemade tarter sauce (often followed by Granny's dewberry cobbler), or Grandpa firing up his old barrel barbecue, we were always in for serious treats.


Barbecues were no small thing. They were often elaborate and included all varieties of fresh meat—mutton, pork, beef, chicken and sausage.  I can still picture Grandpa in his overalls these many years later, mop rag in hand, lovingly saucing all the meat as it slow-cooked on the pit.

Our meat-centric nephew (who today enjoys the tractor and the farm as much as we did when we were that age) would have fit right in at these gatherings.  Of course, there were plenty of home-grown vegetables that would have satisfied our veggie-loving niece, too.


Summers always promised a number of large pit community barbecues, including the Father's Day barbecue at the Dance Hall in Milheim—an annual favorite since the 1890s.  These were times for generations to come together and share a meal in fellowship.  We had such a great time at these community events, and made a quick trip back this year.





Though it was way too hot, and our stay this year was very brief, it's always nice to watch friends who haven't seen each other in many years reconnecting, and we plan to gather the whole family for another one in the not-too-distant (and hopefully less hot) future.



Dad recalls attending often when he was young (Coushatta Hall, Milheim and Cat Spring), and likes to tell the story about how he earned the money for his FFA project thanks to these community events.  When he was about 14 years old, he wanted to buy a lamb to raise.  Coushatta Hall held dances on Saturday night and barbecues on Sunday where they sold beer in bottles.  They charged a nickel deposit on each bottle. Folks would take their beer to the parking lot to drink it, and either toss the bottles or abandon them on the tables there.  Dad and his buddy collected the bottles and returned them to the beer sales stall to claim the deposit.  After enough days gathering time, he earned close to $20 and used that money to buy his lamb.  



At the Milheim barbecue, everything is served up family-style, and includes pickles, onions, beans, potatoes, white bread—and ooooh, that perfect vinegary sauce, or barbecue gravy, that just can't be beat—and a glass of tea to wash it all down. Diners stand around tall tables under the shade of big trees to eat, visit, and listen to the Czech and German polka music that's always playing. 


When my sister and I were kids, one of our favorite delights at the barbecue was the cake walk.  Grandpa always won a cake, and we always asked him to pick the German Chocolate to take home!  No luck winning this year, but it was fun putting down our 50 cents for a try.


video

We'd come home stuffed, satisfied and exhausted.  But not too tired or too full for a slice of german chocolate cake with ice cream and a lazy game of dominoes in the slight cool of the evening on the screened-in porch.

We have recipes for both our Granny's and our Grandma's sauce.  This one is mostly Grandma's with some adaptations from Granny's recipe too.  Granny used a potato masher to break down the onions as the sauce bubbled down, so that's what I do too.  The smell of this vinegary sauce simmering on the stovetop takes me right back to my childhood.

Grandma's Barbecue Sauce




Ingredients:
3/4 stick butter, melted
1 T olive oil
2 onions, diced
3 fat cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
a few drops Tabasco
3 T cider vinegar
2 t chilli powder
2 t smoked paprika
2 1/4 c water
2 T brown sugar
1 T worchestershire
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t pepper
1 tsp dry mustard

Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer for at least an hour.  While the sauce simmers, use a potato masher to help break down the onions.  Season whatever meat you're grilling with salt and pepper, and mop with this sauce throughout the cooking process.