Wednesday, July 27, 2011


As you all know, I rarely plug or review cookbooks on this blog.  However, this book, new to my collection, is worth mention for a few key reasons.  Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi has great recipes with lots of creativity, heavily relying on spice blends and flavors that are still uncommon in most American homes.  I would say that this book has been my best buy over the last few years.  Usually, when I purchase a cookbook, I'm happy if there are five items I want to try.  In this book, I want to cook and eat every recipe.  And it doesn't hurt that the photography is beautiful!   

This is a vegetable book- it's not about being vegetarian, it's just vegetable based; and most dishes can stand on their own or go great next to a nice cut of meat.  So far every recipe I've tried has turned out beautifully, with (sometimes unexpected) synergistic flavors and nice balance between different components and textures. 

If you don't have a well stocked spice cabinet, it would be hard to get started with this book.  Most recipes have a few different spices as well as fresh herbs.  Once you have all the components on hand, you'll find the flavor combinations addictive.  I chose to share the recipe below since the ingredient list is pretty accessible.

Chickpea sauté with Greek yogurt

3/4 # swiss chard

5 T olive oil
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 1/2 c cooked chickpeas
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ lemon, juiced
1 T fresh mint, chopped
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 c Greek yogurt
1 T olive oil

Wash the chard, separate the stalks from the leaves, blanch the stalks for five minutes and the leaves for two, then chop both into ½cm dice.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan, add the carrots and caraway seeds, and sauté for five minutes. Add the chard and chickpeas, sauté for six minutes, then stir in the garlic, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper, remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

To serve, mix the yogurt, tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt. When the vegetables are warmish or even room temperature, pile them on plates and top with a tablespoon of the yogurt mix. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and some more oil.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Zucchini Pickle Recipe

Due to popular demand...! 
Here is the zucchini pickle recipe I used- alter the sugar to your taste, I always cut it back a little bit.

Pickled Zucchini
this should make enough for four quarts

2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
3 c sugar
1/4 c salt
1/2 t turmeric powder

Prepare your quart canning jars as usual (clean, sterilize and hold hot), meanwhile, bring the above ingredients to a boil.

Into each jar, place:
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1/2 t each black peppercorns and coriander
a pinch of red pepper
2 allspice berries

Pack in zucchini slices until the jar is almost full to the threads.  Have ready a boiling water bath, then fill each with the boiling vinegar mixture, leaving 1/3-1/2" of headspace.  If you're paranoid like me, use a pH strip to test the acid content of the liquid- it should be below 4.6.  Top with your hot, sterile lids and rings, and process for 12-15 minutes. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Chicken Chronicles II: Officially Teenagers

When we started out on this little poultry adventure, I was sure it would be super exciting, drama filled, and labor intensive.  Not so much!  Since raising chickens has turned out to be really easy (just feed them and make sure to lock them up at night), I haven't had much to write about.

We did end up with one black rooster (we started out with for black australorps and four easter-egger/ameracaunas).  Initially, we weren't sure how we were going to determine which of the chicks were male, but it turned out to be really rather easy.  For a few weeks during their development, we were sure that we had at least three roosters.  But at about six weeks of age, this one just looked like a boy.  We put an ad on Craigslist, and a farmer came to collect him a few days later with a pickup truck full of goats, dogs, and full grown roosters...  He went to a good home.  The farmer was looking for a boy to keep her girls company.

So then we were down to seven chicks.  That wasn't good enough for my husband.  He had built this crazy chicken palace and seven is too weird a number anyway, so he went and procured three rhode island red ladies.  Ten is a much better number than seven.  You can see our chicken variety pack in the photo above. 

If you look closely, you'll see in the photo that one of the redheads is missing...  We had one hen who developed some sort of issue with her legs.  For about a week she couldn't/wouldn't bear weight on at least one of her legs.  We didn't know if she had some crazy disease or something, so we quarantined her for a few days and once she recovered, we reintroduced her back to the flock.  Aside from that, the only issue we've had is a bit of a protein deficiency due to too many treats (akin to feeding your kids nothing but candy and then wondering why they don't behave quite right...).  A few of the chickens started eating the feathers of the other birds- this was a bit disturbing since one would chase another pulling feathers out of it's back.  We fixed this by giving them lots of salmon trim (they love salmon) for a few days.  Now, everything is fine again.

Next time I write about chickens, hopefully it is because we have our first organic homegrown egg...  They are in their mid-teens now (in chicken years of course), and should start laying in the early fall.