Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: September 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Not long ago, I was not a huge fan of the idea of soup during summer. It seemed to boggle my mind as to why someone would want to eat something hot, while it is hot.

Not too long ago, I got the craving for soup and made a recipe for the cookbook and it turned out that I actually loved soup in the summer. I like to eat light in the summer, I hate being really full when it is hot and humid outside, and soup is a great option and a way to take advantage of all the veggies of summer.

And who doesn't like tomato soup? I've always been a huge fan of tomato soup, but I think I have outgrown the ability to eat Campbell's canned soups. Especially with all the gorgeous tomatoes available at the farmer's market. So I decided to try my hand at making a home-made tomato soup and it wasn't bad at all. In fact, it was pretty darn tasty!

(Sorry for the crummy picture.)

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = local produce from The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook (will denote whether product is local or just from the Nook)
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
6 red tomatoes, cored **
1 heirloom tomato (we used a pink variety), cored *
1 yellow onion, skin removed **
1 head of garlic, top removed to expose some of the garlic clove
3-4 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup veggie broth
1 cup non-dairy or cow's milk
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped ***

Preheat oven to 400.

Drizzle oil over tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast for about 30 minutes, turning the onion about halfway through. Be watchful, you don't want to overcook the tomato.

Peel garlic cloves and transfer the veggies and veggie broth to a blender or food process. Blend until very smooth.

Strain mixture through a wire mesh strainer into a small pan on medium heat on the stove. (We fed the left over pulp that remained after straining to the worms, and they liked it!)

Add the milk and basil and heat through.

Serve with crackers, bread, or the classic grilled cheese sandwich.


'Til next time!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Simple Roasted Veggie Quesadillas

I believe I promised to post about these a week or two ago, but alas, I suck and am have been a bad blogger, but hey - better late than never right?

I am a self-taught cook, and have also "developed" my own palette, and one thing I continually discover is that the simplest things are not only often the best, but in a strange way they are also the hardest. It is because with fewer ingredients there is less room for error, you can't cover up an overcooked tomato if tomato is one of three ingredients in the dish. Anyway, there were no mishaps in this little simplistic kitchen adventure, but I have had my fair share. This isn't really anything special, but it is a great combination of flavors and textures that really showcase all the abundance that is available at this time of year.

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = local produce from The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook (will denote whether product is local or just from the Nook)
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Simple Roasted Veggie Quesadillas:
1 yellow summer squash, ends removed **
1 red bell pepper, washed **
2 tomatillos, husked and washed ***
2 serranos, seeded and minced ***
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, sliced thin *
4-6 tbsp. canola oil, divided evenly
flour tortillas
queso fresco or non-dairy "cheese"
salsa *

Preheat oven to 400.

Drizzle half the canola oil over squash, bell pepper, and tomatillos. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast in oven for about 30 minutes, turning the veggies about half way through to get even cooking.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet. Add the serranos, garlic, and onions, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.

When veggies come out of the oven, allow the veggies to cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop the stem off the bell pepper, peel it (the skin should slide off easily), remove the seeds, and slice. Slice the squash and tomatillos.

Layer veggies and cheese in a warmed flour tortilla and fry if desired. Serve with salsa - the hotter the better.

'Til next time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Two Weeks of Local Booty - Garden Grub, CSA, and Farmer's Market - September 5th and 12th, 2009 (aka J Sucks)

So, um, yeah, I suck, I'll admit it - I've been a bad blogger as of late. I realized mid-week last week that I never did a local booty update last weekend (and we got some really good stuff!).

Not to worry though, my reasons for my lack of blogging are not necessarily bad ones. First off, I have been really into writing. I had been working on one fiction piece, a more serious work, and got bogged down with it. So I put it down and began to pursue another idea I had and it has just been pouring out of me. At the current moment, I am up to page 33 and I am very pleased with it. With my more serious work, I saw its potential, but I also knew it was going to take an awful lot of work to make it something I could be proud of. And in all honesty, the subject material, while initially therapeutic, began to get a little depressing and I decided to put it down. That wasn't easy for me to do, as I like to finish things, but I knew if I continued to force myself, what I produced wasn't going to be very good.

So I put it down and began to work on a piece with a plot that wasn't quite so close to home. It is funny, quirky, and I have had a blast writing it. The writing is coming quite naturally and I think it might actually be, well, decent. In all honesty, I wasn't really expecting that. But when I began reading over what I had written to edit it, I found myself interested in the plot, in the characters. When I discussed it with Brett, he seemed really into it, making comments along the lines of "that sounds like something you would actually want to read". That might sound really lame, but it is harder to do that one might imagine, and in all honesty, I read a lot, there is a lot of crap out there. More crap than quality.

What I've discovered too, with some of my favorite books, TV shows, movies, is that humor can be used in very interesting ways. For example, one can broach and incredibly difficult topic like religion in a light, non-offensive way, while still making a point. Daily life for average folks is also fun to write about because we are all secretly closet weirdos with strange hobbies, habits, and behaviors. I've always been one to say that the ordinary, when looked at closely, is almost always more interesting than the extraordinary.

Anyway, along with writing, I have also been firmly ensconced in reading mode. Like I noted above, there is a lot of crap out there. If any of you actually look at the 'Books J's Read - 2009' list, you will notice that not a lot of the fiction books are rated very highly. This might also make you wonder why I bother to read books that I know I wouldn't rate highly. The explanation for that is fairly straight forward, to me a good book is one that is novel, well written, not predictable, one that makes me think or laugh, with solid characters, good plots, and whenever possible, a good dose of humor. But, a book doesn't have to be an award winning or best selling work to be entertaining, and I think entertainment, the light and fluffy variety are fun too. So while I wouldn't never dare to call a lot of what I read literature, I still enjoy it in its own right. (And I am always open to book suggestions, if you have 'em, send 'em my way.)

Occasionally, very occasionally, I come across something really good, and I rate it accordingly. These are books that I wouldn't be afraid to recommend or defend the merits of to a friend. My tastes in books is also just that - my taste. You all might disagree with my ratings and would have valid reasons for doing so. I will admit that I am much more forgiving of non-fiction than I am fiction. Even if a non-fiction work isn't all that interesting, if I learn something, something of value, a new perspective, whatever, I am going to give it a high rating even if the person has a tendency to have really freakin' long paragraphs and horrible punctuation (like the first edition of Clive Ponting's awesome environmental history novel A Green History of the World).

Anyway, I will admit that I have also been into watching old episodes of Iron Chef lately too. So all and all, those are my excuses.

Since I didn't post a local booty update last weekend, I am going to do last week's and this week's in one post.

We got some garden grub last weekend from our container garden:

Starting from the bottom right: a hot Hungarian wax chile, a sweet banana, 15 serranos, and 2 more cayennes.

Here is last weeks CSA:

Starting from the bottom right: a green bell pepper, a red bell pepper, a small yellow summer squash, a large yellow onion, and 4 tomatoes.

And this week's Danjo Farms quarter veggie CSA share:

Starting again from the bottom right: a cucumber, a zucchini, 2 yellow onions, 4 tomatoes, 2 New Mexico chiles, and 5 ears of sweet corn.

Here is our farmer's market haul from last week:

Again from the bottom right: a quart of jalapenos from Danjo Farms (I froze them for use over the winter), cilantro, fingerling potatoes, an heirloom tomato (we didn't catch what variety), and two gorgeous acorn squash (one of which has been roasted with pure maple syrup, cinnamon, and a touch of brown sugar, so yummy).

And this week's farmer's market haul:

Okay so this is the best picture of this week's farmer's market loot and it is at kind of an odd angle, I apologize.

Let's start from the rightish area: a quart of banana peppers from Danjo Farms (going to be frozen for use over winter), home-made focaccia from Danjo Farms (more on that below), sundried tomatoes from Danjo Farms (what can I say? we are loyal and their stuff rocks), a pie pumpkin (I broke the stem off because I needed it to fit in my bag without puncturing everything else and we plan on eating it soon), and one freakin' massive sweet potato.

A note on the focaccia: anyone in Columbia with a heartbeat, get to Danjo Farms stand and try their focaccia - but don't buy too much, leave some for 'ol J&B. I'm not normally one to be out there championing people to buy things, but there are rare times that come along where it would be wrong not to share. This stuff is so good I cannot begin to describe to you how wonderful it is. I want a focaccia share - now there is an idea. Seriously though, this bread is amazing, both B and I agree that it is probably the best bread we've every had - light, fluffy, slightly chewy, with just enough seasoning so as not to overpower the tastiness that is good home-made bread. Mmmmmm.

So, I promise to try to be a better blogger, though I am really into the writing and I apologize in advance to poor Selina for having to read my long winded ramblings.

J's Song of the Day:
"Elevator is Temporary" - The Lilys

Have a great weekend everyone!

'Til next time!