...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Chilling Out While Cooking up a Storm

Pickled Beets with Cumin and Cloves--the reds are homegrown
The kitchen has been such a busy place lately that I hardly know where to begin.  Besides canning like crazy, the dehydrator and food processor have been working overtime as I preserve as much as possible in the height of the season--drying sage, drying chopped beet greens (a la the dried spinach I made previously), and turnip chips (more on those later.)  It feels like we're finally getting a break from the super hot weather.  But Saturday was still very humid and after running around and working our rummage sale, the last thing we wanted to do was heat up the house cooking inside.  Enter chilled soup.  I bought a dozen ears of corn at the farmers' market on Thursday and cut off all the kernels for freezing.  As we baked our pizza at a high temperature on Friday, I roasted the remaining cobs then put them into a stockpot with my ongoing bowl of vegetable trimmings from the fridge.  Ben bought a half dozen more ears of corn at the farmers' market on Saturday, grilled them and collectively we made a chilled blender soup that evening.

Chilled Grilled Corn Soup with Chiles, Lime, and Cilantro Cream
Serves 4

Adapted from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider.

6 ears fresh corn, shucked, oiled, and grilled
2 t. olive oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 small serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. sugar/honey/xylitol
2 c. corn stock or vegetable stock
2 c. almond or coconut milk
2 T. lime juice
Ground black pepper

Cilantro Cream:
1/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 t. minced fresh chives or scallions
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. sugar/honey/xylitol
1 T. lime juice

1/4 c. lean smoked ham, diced small
Reserved corn kernels
Thinly sliced zucchini or summer squash

Slice the kernels off the grilled corn--you should have 4-5 c. of corn kernels.  (Set aside about 1/4 c. kernels for garnish.)  Combine all of the soup ingredients in a large bowl then blender in batches until smooth.  Season to taste.  Mix all ingredients for cilantro cream and set aside.  Combine ham and reserved corn kernels.  Serve soup in bowls drizzled with cilantro cream.  Place sliced squash in center of bowl and top with ham/corn.  (Leftovers can be heated later if desired.)

Last night I prepared another cold soup--I was still feeling the heat of the day, I needed something ultra-quick but healthy to serve for dinner since I would be running out to teach another class, and I was trying to work through the load of veggies currently in the crisper drawer as another family vacation draws near   (hence the seemingly random addition of lettuce in this soup).

Chilled Green Curry Cucumber Soup
Serves 4

Adapted from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles.

Cool and Refreshing
2 medium (8-inch long) peeled, cucumbers
3 medium scallions (white and green parts)
1 head romaine lettuce
1 c. vegetable stock
6 sprigs fresh dill, or 1/2 t. dried dill weed
1 c. almond milk
1 T. white distilled vinegar
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t. salt, or to taste
1/8 t. freshly ground pepper
1-2 t. green curry paste, diluted with 1-2 T. stock or almond milk
Plain whole milk yogurt
Fresh dill sprigs

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Serve chilled, garnished with yogurt and dill.

Ater a preservation presentation last week I was talking to a student about how to use all the zucchini and summer squash that's busting out of the garden and at the farmers' markets these days.  I think I should post a Top Ten list of ideas.  One that I tried on Friday night Pizza Night was to use zucchini or squash as a "crust" for my gluten-free pizza.  I ran out of time to replenish the supply of homemade gluten-free crust I usually keep frozen so this idea was born.  I thinly sliced our homegrown pattypan squash using my Japanese slicer then layered it on the bottom of the stoneware baking pan that was dusted with cornmeal.  Seasoned the squash lightly with salt and pepper then proceeded to add the night's toppings--sauteed mushrooms, black olives, sauteed swiss chard, broccoli, a smattering of tomato sauce (so the pizza didn't get overly wet), and shredded mozzarella.  Of course it wasn't a pizza you could pick up and eat by the slice, but a fork worked just as well and it was all the yummy, gooey, cheesiness of pizza, but low-carb and high-veggie.

Italian Pickled Zucchini
Since the weekend I've been running a pickle marathon.  On Sunday I canned another batch of dilly beans--this time for the farmers' at Pinehold Gardens for whom I do a worker share, soaked and canned a batch of Italian Pickled Zucchini using some gorgeous orange zucchini and Benning's green pattypan squash I found at the South Milwaukee Farmers' Market last Thursday, and roasted both red and golden beets to make Pickled Beets with Cumin and Cloves yesterday.  I love how these beets turned out, especially the golden ones.  At least half of the batch already has someone else's name on it--the generous woman who donated a ton of quart canning jars to the Urban Ecology Center and boxes of other canning jars to me over the winter said that she'd barter for pickled beets.  I am more than happy to oblige and will hand-deliver them to her in just a couple of weeks.  The last pickling project on my list this week is Dill Carrots.  The carrots from our garden are looking excellent and I believe there are still some smaller ones that I can preserve whole in pint jars.  Then on the seventh day I will rest and take a vacation.
Sliced Very Thinly

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