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Fresh Tarragon with Pasta

Summer Herbs

The leaves are turning color on the cherry trees across the street from my house and falling rapidly. It’s funny how the cherry trees are one of the first to bloom and stand out in the spring and now again in the fall they are vying for attention again ahead of the other trees. Dog and I walk under them daily and get an occasional decorative leaf or two falling on us while we walk. Soon there will be other trees and bushes joining the rush to fall season.

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For now I’m still happily maintaining my garden and picking lots of tomatoes and hot peppers even though fall approaches. Most of my tomato plants are done for the year, but there are a couple of unknown heirlooms producing well. That’s the beauty of planting many types of tomatoes, you get to pick some throughout the season.

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With this abundance of  great tasting tomatoes I’ve been coming up with new ways to eat them. I have them with breakfast some mornings, especially if I’m eating eggs, and I also slice them up just for a snack at all times of the day. I’ve made, and posted gazpacho soup, gobs of salsa for chips and dip, and canned a bunch of diced tomatoes.

 

I figure I have two or three more weeks of tomato harvesting before I have to count on the local farms for fresh tomatoes. My herbs however will produce into October and beyond. One year I had fresh herbs right through November! As a chef it’s awesome to have a great little herb garden out back. For most of my life I lived in cold climates and had to resort to grocery stores for almost all my fresh herb needs.

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With my tarragon plant starting to look just a bit old I decided to start using more fresh tarragon. I made a fresh tarragon salad dressing this week and for today’s post decided to share with you a tarragon pasta dish that takes less than 20 minutes start to finish. If you don’t like tarragon just substitute fresh basil for this side dish and enjoy just the same.

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Fresh Tarragon with Pasta

12 ounces pasta of your choice, I like fettucine for this dish

2 1/2 quarts of water

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons oil

8 ounces sliced white mushrooms

1 bell pepper diced, green, yellow, or red

1/2 yellow onion sliced

1 clove garlic minced

1 heaping tablespoon fresh tarragon minced

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Start pasta water, and salt boiling on high heat to get a head start. Cook according to directions on package.

In a sauté pan on medium heat cook onions, peppers and garlic for three to five minutes stirring often.

Add sliced mushrooms and cook for another eight to ten minutes.

If pasta is done it is time to add  most of the tarragon to the mushroom mixture and cook for just one minute on medium heat stirring. Save a bit of tarragon for a garnish.

Arrange pasta on serving platter or bowl and top with mushroom mixture.

Sprinkle a bit of the leftover tarragon on top and garnish the sides with fresh tomato wedges.

Serves four as a side and two as a main dish.

 

Vintage Corn Recipe

When I was 19 years old my grand parents in St Louis gifted me a copy of the 1898 White House Cookbook written by the first lady Ida Saxon-McKinley. For those who don’t know about these treasures of Americana, the White House Cookbooks instructed housewives of the day in everything from home remedies, cleaning, etiquette, and of course cooking. This was ages before Julia Childs was on the scene to teach us American cooks  recipes from Europe and beyond.

bi-colored corn, aka Peaches and Cream Corn

bi-colored corn, aka Peaches and Cream Corn

As a rookie cook I was amused by the cooking instructions from a time when pretty much all cooking was done on wood stove/oven appliances. The electric stove wouldn’t be in significant production until 1908 and even then it was rarely found in a home. So if you were baking biscuits the recipe would say something like “ bake in a fast oven until desired brownness appears” or something like that. There was no heat measured in Fahrenheit like we see in modern cookbooks, or exact time it took to cook.

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I prepared very few of the recipes in this antique cookbook over the twenty plus years I had the White House Cookbook in my possession as they just didn’t fit what I was cooking in restaurants or home. On a few trips to Marble, Colorado we would stay at some cabins from the 1930‘s that had wood burning stoves and I loved baking in the oven using wood for fuel like in my antique cookbook. It was a bit tricky as I had very few reps in this type of cooking but it always turned out well. I would think back to the directions in the White House cookbook and roast a chicken with vegetables and then bake a cobbler for dessert.

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The cookbook mostly provided me with an interesting review of cooking history, and I read it often. One of the exceptional recipes was a fried corn dish that became a favorite vegetable of the day at a restaurant I worked at in Frisco. The cooks loved it because it was so easy to make. The management loved it because it was inexpensive, and everyone loved the taste. This tasty dish is accentuated by todays super sweet corn varieties whether you are using Silver Queen, or Peaches and Cream Corn this recipe lets the fresh summer corn taste shine brightly.

adding the half and half

adding the half and half

I also have my grand parents to thank for leaving me their entire collection of cast iron cookware that I use to this day. Some pieces are over a hundred years old and still quite functional. For todays post I think it’s appropriate to cook this dish in a pan from that era. I hope you give it a try with your favorite fresh or frozen corn to see how easy and delicious this antique recipe I’ve adapted from the 1898 White House Cookbook is.

IMG_63591898 Sautéed Corn

 

3 1/2 to 4 cups fresh corn cut off the cob, about 3 large ears

1 teaspoon olive oil

3 to 4 tablespoons half and half

pinch or two of ground white pepper

salt to taste

 

Heat sauté pan or cast iron skillet for two minutes on medium low heat.

Add oil and corn and cook for five minutes stirring every 30 seconds or so on medium heat.

Kick up the heat to medium high and add half and half and white pepper cooking for one to two more minutes.

Add salt to taste and serve.

Serves four

 

Greek Style Green Beans

Six Little Tomatoes

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This week I had a seven hour session of home canning where I made Kurt’s Killer Salsa(http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/kurts-killer-salsa/), Red Habenero Salsa(http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/some-like-it-hot/), and diced canned tomatoes. It was a lot of work, but well worth it come winter when I open a jar of home cooked goodness from the garden that the grocery store can’t compete with.

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When all the tomato blood had cleared it was apparent that six little tomatoes escaped in the confusion. I was contemplating their fate when I thought of a trip to Greece a few years back and how I loved the fava beans cooked with tomatoes we had several times on that trip.

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Being short on fava beans I opted for frozen green beans to pair with my six little toms and cooked them up while they were still in their prime.

cook the beans and the tomato mix at the same time

cook the beans and the tomato mix at the same time

If you are like me and through gardening or over indulging at your local farmer’s market has you experiencing no room in your fridge, or counter space you need lots of ideas for cooking veggies. Well, look no further for a tomato and green bean combo as I have a solution to your problem that takes less than 20 minutes to make, and is delicious too!

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This is also a great veggie dish for re-heating so even if you are cooking for just two in your home this will provide you with green beans for two or more meals.

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Greek Style Green Beans with Tomatoes

 

1 pound green beans, fresh or frozen

2-2 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes

1/3 cup minced onion

1 clove minced fresh garlic

2 teaspoons oregano

1 tablespoon olive oil

 

If using fresh green beans, wash and cut into three inch lengths. This will take longer, but will be delicious with fresh beans.

In a pot with water to cover bring  green beans to a boil then cook for two more minutes covered.

Just after starting the green beans sauté onions and garlic in olive oil on medium low heat in a 12 inch sauté pan for five minutes stirring often.

Add tomatoes, and oregano to the sauté pan and continue cooking on medium low heat for eight minutes. If green beans are not done yet turn off heat to the tomato mix.

When green beans are done, drain and add to the tomato mixture and cook on medium heat for 2-5 minutes until desired tenderness is reached.

Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and serve with a garnish of fresh oregano if you have it available.

Serves 4-6.

 

Note:

Fresh oregano can be used but don’t add it until the last minute of cooking. Mince the fresh oregano, and increase to four teaspoons.

Of Fireflies and Beans

It was like walking in a dream with fairies and magic all around me the first time I laid eyes on fireflies. I was about ten years old and we were visiting relatives in Missouri for a camping trip in the Ozark Mountains. Since I lived in Colorado I had only heard tales of such magical creatures so it was quite a treat to see and catch them. When I moved to Maryland in 2008 I didn’t know I’d be treated to the same spectacle each spring.

 

For several nights over the last week when I’m outside walking my dog Tucker we are on alert for the first fireflies. Last night around 10pm we finally spied the first of what will soon be many. They were high up in the trees and it took some patience to spot them. Last spring when Tucker was just a frisky four month old puppy he delighted in trying to catch the fireflies on our last-of-the-night walks. It was pretty funny until he finally caught one and I put an end to that game. I don’t know if eating fireflies is unhealthy for dogs, but I know it’s unhealthy for the fireflies! I can’t wait to see what he thinks of them this year now that he is all grown up and almost fifteen months old. Soon they will come down from up high in the trees and be flying about us on our night time walks.

 

It’s this sort of thing that instills an awareness of nature and the coming and going of seasons. So many kids these days are removed from this awareness of the natural world and how it is all intertwined. We could lay part of the blame on grocery stores that stock fresh cherries in the Fall and Winter, as well as asparagus. Just forty years ago these foods only came available to most of us “in season”. I applaud the little firefly for being a remnant of times gone by where most people were aware of what seasons meant to our culture especially as it pertains to our eating habits. The firefly does not show up in winter! How preposterous it would be if it did. The firefly can remind us of what the natural world is about, and the important cycles of plants, animals, and insects.

 

Almost as crazy as buying fresh cherries and asparagus in winter is eating half the crap sold in grocery stores these days. For a healthy food that is always in season  I share with you one of the most amazing foods that’s available year round in fresh, frozen or dried form. Yes beans of many types are good tasting and good for us. Beans can be found in just about every grocery store in North America in one form or another. Beans are high in fiber and protein and come in many shapes and sizes. They are great as a side dish or as a main dish and are very affordable. You can flavor them with so many herbs, and spices that the choices are almost endless.

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Thanks to Urban Accents gifting me a selection of five of their products I’ve been playing around in the kitchen and want to share this easy crock pot recipe with you. I have known for several years that commercial steak seasonings are usually good for bean cooking.  I had used Urban Accents Argentina Steak Rub seasoning on beans before but I have a new favorite. I tested their Chicago Steak and Chop Seasoning in a couple of bean recipes and share one with you that takes under five minutes to prepare before walking away from your crock pot for hours. This great tasting bean dish will go well with grilled chicken, pork or beef as well as stand on its own as an entree when served over rice with a dollop of hot sauce. So give it a try and see if you agree that this is one easy and tasty dish. And by all means give the Chicago Steak and Chop a try on steak if that floats your boat!

Red Beans with Chicago Steak and Chop Seasoning

 

1 and 1/2 cups red beans, see note

7 cups of water

1 cup chopped yellow or white onion

1 clove fresh garlic minced

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Urban Accents Chicago Steak and Chop seasoning

 

Crock pot  method:

Put all ingredients in at once and cook on low for 9-10 hours. You can also cook on high for about 7-8 hours. I like to load the crock pot at night before going to bed and have the beans ready to pack in a thermos for lunch.

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Stovetop method:

Bring water and onions to a boil.

Add beans, garlic, Chicago Steak and Chop seasoning and simmer covered on low heat until beans are tender(about 3-4 hours). Add more water if needed.

 

Note: I like Christmas Pole Lima beans for this dish but red beans are good too and easier to find.

Even though Urban Accents gifted me the package of five of their products my opinions are my own and not influenced by them or anyone else. I write about what taste good to me!

What is Fast Enough?

When it comes to putting healthy food on the table what is fast enough? My idea of a fast dinner prepped and plated in twenty five minutes might be too long for some, just right for some, and too fast for others. Not to mention that some days you might have more time and inclination to cook than others. Some folks just can’t live without their microwave oven to facilitate fast cooking. To me, the microwave  oven is a food destroyer,  myself and other purists won’t use one.

 

pasta tonight?

pasta tonight?

What you will get from me is my original fast and healthy recipes using whole foods, and occasionally some healthy convenience foods to help you eat better while spending less time in the kitchen. I follow food news closely and read many a book on diet and nutrition every year. With all the food news out there it can get downright confusing at times wondering what is healthy to eat. Not to mention all of us are different and don’t respond to the diet of the month the same as everyone else.

I like to write about, and eat  healthy foods that are in season. Especially the ones I am growing in my own garden. This year I’m growing arugula for the first time. Arugula contains about 8 times the calcium, 5 times the amount of vitamin A, C, and K, and 4 times the iron of iceberg lettuce according to livestrong.com. I like the intense flavor that goes well in salads as well as hot pasta dishes. If you have never cooked with greens in your pasta try this simple dish in your home soon. Assuming your pasta takes ten minutes to cook, this dish takes less than twenty minutes from start to finish and wow does it taste great! Is that fast enough for you? Please leave your comments on what your idea is on fast food in your kitchen, and please share this with friends and family.

the goods

the goods

Fettucine tossed with Arugula

16 ounces fettuccine, or other pasta

about 3 ounces fresh arugula

2 cloves minced fresh garlic

1 cup walnuts, halves and pieces will do

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated

optional, 1-2 ounces of fresh oregano whole leaves, or sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Start by heating water in a pot per pasta cooking directions.

On medium heat in a sauté pan toast the walnuts in 1/2 teaspoon olive oil for five minutes tossing or stirring often. Season with salt and pepper then set aside.

Cook pasta and when pasta is done cooking rinse and drain.

In a large sauté pan add garlic and oil cooking for three minutes over medium heat stirring once or twice.

Add pasta and cook over medium heat for three minutes stirring often.

toss or stir

toss or stir

 

Add arugula and continue cooking for two minutes stirring, or tossing.

Add walnuts, cheese, and oregano if using and cook one more minute stirring, or tossing as you go. Serves four.

Note:Makes a great entrée or side dish. Serve as a side with grilled chicken breast.

Fresh parsley may be used instead of oregano.

A bottle of Pinot Blanc would go great with this dish, or a Verdejo.

 

Chili-Garlic Edamame Appetizer Recipe

The weather is beautiful and it’s time to think Spring. Do you like those simple at home happy hour appetizers? I’ve got a spicy good one for you that is very easy to make and goes well with beer, sake or wine. Edamame is just soy beans in the pod and when cooked right can be great! If you like sushi and have gone to a Japanese restaurant you have probably seen edamame on the menu. Lucky for us it’s easy to find it at most grocery stores in the U.S. and it’s easy to prepare. This little green taste treat is good for you too. Here’s the nutrition breakdown for plain edamame:

one cup serving has 8 grams total fat, 9 mg sodium, 676 mg potassium, 15 grams total carbs, 17 grams protein, vitamins C and B-6, minerals including iron, magnesium and calcium.

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For years I have simply boiled edamame, drained it and sprinkled it with kosher salt, but for the love of all things spicy I came up with a bold and hot version that just takes a few minutes to make. Since you will want to be out on the deck in the sun using that nice outdoor furniture you bought why not decorate your table with this lovely duo of beans and beer for your outside happy hour? As always I welcome your comments and suggestions.

 

Chili-Garlic Edamame

 

the goods

the goods

10 ounces frozen in-the-pod edamame

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1-2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce, or soy sauce see note

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, optional

boil time

boil time

 

sauce in the pan

sauce in the pan

Cook frozen edamame in water per the directions on the package, and drain but don’t cool.

In a sauté pan add chili-garlic sauce and oyster sauce and cook while stirring for one minute. Add edamame and cook stirring for two to three minutes then transfer to a serving dish. Top with sesame seeds if desired.

Serves four

 

add the beans and toss around

add the beans and toss around

Note:

If you don’t have or can’t easily find oyster sauce regular soy sauce will work, but it will be a bit thinner sauce that you toss the edamame in. It will also be less sweet since oyster sauce has a little bit of sugar in it.

 

at home happy hour

at home happy hour

Kale Chips

Today I am back in the kitchen after a four day trip to Monterey, California to see my nephew. I really enjoyed the redwoods in the hills above Santa Cruz, and the beach too. where he took us. It was great to bask in 75 degree weather before coming home to a high of 30 degrees with winds up to forty miles an hour. I believe it’s about the coldest day this winter when you figure in the chill factor. Where oh where is Spring?

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I have been super busy all day but found time on my trip to the bank and post office to get groceries for a couple of projects I had in mind. I wanted to bake more kale chips even though it’s not a typical fast and furious recipe. The secret is to do kale chips when you are hanging out by the oven to turn the chips halfway. The most work is cleaning and seasoning the chips which took me about 15 minutes. After that it was 30 minutes in the oven and now I have great tasting kale chips for the next few days unless they are munched in one session of mad munchies fever!

 

As for the recipe it is simple. Wash, dry and cut into chip size pieces. Drizzle about a tablespoon or two of olive oil on the chips that are spread out on a sheet pan. Sprinkle your favorite seasoning salt, or plain salt on them. Grind some fresh pepper on them, or use something fun like red pepper, or jalapeno powder. Toss them around in the pan almost like tossing a salad to distribute the oil, salt and pepper. You can even rub in the oil a bit while tossing. Pop in the oven at 300 degrees.

 

green and gorgeous kale

green and gorgeous kale

Turn the chips and arrange so they are not touching after 15 minutes in the oven. Rotate the pans at this point. Turn heat down to 250 degrees and cook until crisp(about 15-20 minutes) then remove from oven to cool. Now you have great tasting, healthy kale chips for lunches and snacks. They go great with red wine!

Hello Kitty timer says "15 minutes, then turn the chips"

Hello Kitty timer says “15 minutes, then turn the chips”

So give slow food a try if it fits your schedule, it’s worth it once in a while.

snack time

snack time

 

Ithaca, New York. Farm to Table Foodie Paradise!

Last year my wife and I went to Ithaca, New York to explore the Finger Lakes region figuring on seeing pretty landscapes and tasting local wines. We did see pretty landscapes, and tasted local wines, but the big surprise was the amazing food scene in the area. We had no idea that Ithaca is home to one of the best farmer’s markets either of us had ever been to. We had no idea there was such a love for heirloom vegetables and fruits there. We also had no idea there were several great eating establishments in the area. With all that, we knew we would return and explore some more this year.

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This year it seemed like a good idea to skip Labor Day weekend and go to Ithaca the following weekend for a less crowded vacation. The weather was still quite nice with a couple of clear blue sky days with temperatures around 70 degrees. The farms were still putting out lots of amazing produce. We planned the trip so we could be there for the weekend farmer’s market by Cayuga Lake to get the most out of our trip. This market features several fruit and vegetable growers that show off their heirloom tomatoes that are both huge and beautiful as well as tasty. Most of the produce at the Ithaca farmer’s market is organic or “no-spray” which is a big selling point to me.

 

A short primer on heirlooms is in order here. Many people are new to the term “heirloom” as it applies to food. If I understand it correctly it is a type of vegetable, fruit or animal that was not mass produced and once planted changed, or adapted to a certain region were it grew year after year. Many years ago there were many varieties of foods than we see in our grocery stores today. If you were buying tomatoes you might have ten to twenty types to choose from.If you were buying apples you might have over one hundred to choose from. Pigs, sheep, cows, chickens and turkeys came in many varieties that were suited to the area and climate that they were raised, and all had their own unique flavor. Many of us foodies are just now realizing how limiting grocery store food is and are seeking out local farmers that are bringing back heirloom varieties on a small scale. The Ithaca farmer’s market opened a door to the heirloom treasure trove of food like I have never witnessed.

 

There is a fruit grower that had a cute little basket of plums containing four varieties with the smallest being the size of your average grape. They were handing out samples of this small plum that was bursting with sweet juicy plum flavor all its own.

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There is the honey guy, the maple syrup guy, the apple cider stand, and more sweet stuff too.

There are a couple of bakery stands, crepes, breakfast foods, Cuban food, and Cambodian food to buy a great hot meal and eat on the nearby lakefront. The Cuban stand had some of the best black beans and rice I have ever tasted! They also serve a delicious baked chicken that goes great with the beans and rice. I ordered the chicken with beans and rice and let my wife and in-laws taste it. They all liked it so much they bought it for lunch also.

One of the smaller farm stands had two types of fresh corn on the cob that we bought and tasted last night. I just tossed it in boiling water for three minutes and wow was it good and sweet!

 

A short trip up either side of Cayuga Lake brought us to small farm stands selling pears, squash, green beans, Asian pears, onions garlic, and pumpkins. I bought Asian pears, Bartlett pears, and four kinds of apples from “One of a kind orchards” in Lansing, New York. This amazing farm advertises that they have over 200 varieties of heirloom apples, but the owner explained to me that she thought there were probably over 300!

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It was there I bought four types of apples I have never had. I bought Freedom, Mother, Paula Red, and Padukah apples to make applesauce with. I’ve tried two of the varieties so far and it will be hard to put them in applesauce they taste so good. I now wish I had bought thirty pounds instead of fifteen.

 

We also stopped at Bellwether Hard Cider to taste several types of alcoholic cider made from local apples. Once upon a time cider was way more popular than it is now, but Bellwether and others are changing that by bringing cider back to compete with beer as the summer cool beverage of choice. You can find more info about Bellwether Cider at www.cidery.com as they can ship it to you in most states.

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The restaurant scene is worthy of a whole post of its own, but I will mention Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca since they are celebrating their 40th year in business. They have won several James Beard awards for their cookbooks over the years, and are quite well known. This creative restaurant has taken vegetarian and vegan food to a whole new level and they have been doing it for years. They have a cookbook celebrating this important anniversary with 250 of their favorite recipes. I bought a copy of it and will start trying out some of the recipes and post the results for you all soon.

We had dinner there and even though it didn’t earn a score of 10 out of 10, I’d still give it an 8. The most amazing dish was the vegan chocolate cake. All of us agreed we couldn’t tell the difference between it and a cake made with butter and eggs from this vegan masterpiece. If you get a chance to go to Ithaca give Moosewood a try even if you are not vegan or vegetarian. They also serve fish on the menu daily for the meat eaters.

 

There might be a better place for a farm to table food scene, and if there is I want to go there. Next month I’m flying to Portland, Oregon to write a post on the food scene there, and also Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County, California. I expect both will be full of great food and fun to report to you dear readers that like to travel as much as I do. Until then here is a recipe using ingredients purchased on the Ithaca area for you to try at home.

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Oven Roasted Delicata Squash with Carrots and Golden Beets

This is a versatile dish that can be served as an appetizer, side dish or vegan main dish.

1 medium sized delicata squash

2 to 3 carrots

4-6 golden beets

1/4 cup sliced shallots

4 teaspoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

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Cut delicata squash length wise to expose seeds. Remove seeds and set aside. Cut squash length wise again so you have four wedges, then cut into about one inch pieces, and place on baking sheet pan.

Wash and cut carrots into one inch pieces, and place in pan with squash. If using organic carrots don’t peel them.

 

 

Wash and scrub beets. Trim top and bottom and cut off any other root like bits. Cut beets into almost one inch pieces by first cutting them in half length wise with the first cut and then into quarters with a second cut. Now cut beets into pieces a bit smaller than the carrots and squash(due to cooking time), and add to pan.

Peel and slice shallots and add to the pan. Mix all vegies then drizzle oil over them. Add salt and pepper then bake for 25-35 minutes at 350 degrees or until tender.

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Serves six to eight as an appetizer, four as a side dish or two as a main dish.

 

Note: The trick to this dish is to get the vegies cut to the size that allows them to cook in the same amount of time at the same temperature. Don’t be too worried though as these vegies taste good a bit under or overcooked.

Cook squash seeds in same oven for about 15 minutes with a bit of salt and pepper. Remove sponge like substance from around seed first, and then bake. These are great on soups or salads, or by themselves.

I used purple heirloom carrots, but regular carrots will work well too.

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Farmer’s Market Italian Green Beans

Farmer’s Market Italian Green Beans

Baltimore’s farmer’s markets are in full swing now that summer is here. I took full advantage of this on Sunday by buying all we could carry. We started out with fresh garlic and pole green beans then moved on to yellow squash and zucchini. Next stop I spied Italian Green Beans and had to have them. The mushroom folks had fresh chanterelle mushrooms so in the bag they went. We also bought two kinds of bread from the Breadery which grinds the wheat for their bread. The buying frenzy continued when I bought more garlic, this time heirloom garlic from my favorite organic farmer Rudy. The bags were getting heavy but I couldn’t pass up a ghost pepper plant for $2 and a couple of jalapeno plants too. Last but not least was fresh sweet corn on the cob to make a grilled corn salad with.

Now it is one thing to buy and carry all that good stuff, but the real work begins when you get it home! There is the cleaning, cutting, canning and cursing to be done. It does take a lot of work but once you taste the freshness of real food fresh from a farm it’s hard to pass it up.

My favorite buy of the day so far was the Italian Green Beans. I used to love the frozen version and would cook them in about a total of two ways. Today I made the version with tomato that is fast and furious and will have you eating these yummy beans in no time at all. Give this simple recipe a try with either Itaian or regular green beans soon.

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Farmer’s Market Italian Green Beans Recipe

 

1 pound fresh Italian Green Beans, or regular green beans

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon garlic infused olive oil, or olive oil and 1 clove minced garlic

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh oregano minced, optional

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Wash and trim the beans then cut in half. Saute onions in a saute pan with oil for 5-7 minutes on medium low heat. Add the green beans, tomatoes,  and cook on medium low for 15 minutes covered stirring once, or twice. Continue cooking uncovered until desired doneness is achieved(about 5-8 minutes)and add fresh oregano if using 1-2 before serving .

Serves four.

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Note:

You can use 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano in place of fresh by adding it in the beginning.

Chopped fresh parsley is a nice addition too. Add 1-2 minutes before the beans are done cooking.

For an extra healthy version omit the oil and saute onions in 1/4 inch of water.

 

Beet Greens Anyone?

If you are like me and most others, you hated beets when you were a child. Even if you didn’t hate them you probably didn’t ask mom or dad to have beets with lunch or dinner. You would have been thought of as just plain weird if you liked beets in my school. They were tops on most kids list as the vegie to hate. There was no cartoon hero like Popeye  for spinach to pump up the image of beets so they languished for years. I didn’t start liking beets until I was in my 30’s working at restaurants that knew how to prepare them differently than pickled beets, or Harvard Beets. Why this beautiful vegie received so much scorn from children all over the US is beyond me! They have a great flavor with a nice touch of sweetness and are good for you too. I think there was a conspiracy from some other vegie group to discredit beets. How else can you explain beets reputation amongst children,and some adults? While beets are not as power packed as some other vegies they are low in calories and the greens are high in vitamin A. The greens have four grams of protein and fiber  in one serving. The most important aspect of beets to me is the taste and color they bring to a salad, or side dish. They brighten up any plate in a big way. I love to have beets that have simply been boiled, peeled and sliced as part of a salad. They go great with goat cheese or toasted walnuts as a salad dish.

Fresh from my garden

Fresh from my garden

Since moving to Baltimore over four years ago we ended up with home in the burbs that has room for a vegie garden. This is my third year of vegie gardening here, and what a difference it is from the garden I had in Sterling, Alaska. Why I don’t even have to chase moose from the garden here. I do however get an occasional bunny or deer that wants to sample my garden. Lots of things grow well here that didn’t in Alaska. I grow tomatoes, carrots, peppers, eggplant, onions, okra, gobs of herbs, and beets. I get different results each year as to what grows well and what does not. Beets are the exception to that as they have done well each of the three years. Yesterday I picked my first batch of beets and brought them into the kitchen to test the goods.

 

They looked great, even if they had a couple of holes eaten out of them by some sort of bug. After washing the beets I was ready to have them all to my self, and cut off the greens for instant gratification.

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In the fridge the beets went while their tops hit the saute pan with a bit of my garlic infused olive oil,http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/garlic-infused-olive-oil-roasted-garlic. This side dish cooks quick!

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After  I added a bit of fresh grated parmesan cheese on top I was sitting at the table wolfing down the plate of greens all to myself in near bliss after just 5 minutes in the pan. With a bowl of Pinto Bean Soup it was a great lunch combo. Where ever you live in the US you should be seeing fresh beets, grown locally, now or in the near future. Give this greens recipe a try and let me know if you love beets and beet greens too. Beets are good food!

Sauteed Beet Greens

5 ounces or so of beet greens

1-1 1/2 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

grated parmesan, optional

 

Wash the greens well, and trim most of the stem within about a half inch from the green part. Dry well and saute on medium heat for about five minutes. Sometimes I add a teaspoon of water halfway to speed up the cooking process. Add salt and pepper during the last minute of cooking. These merely need to be wilted, not cooked to a shriveled state where you don’t know what kind of green your eating. Grate fresh parmesan cheese over them and serve.

Serves two

Yummy beautiful beet greens

Yummy beautiful beet greens

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