Confetti Salsa

For those of you who are little kitchen handicapped, you probably have no idea what to bring to a gathering that will not make you look like…well, that you are kitchen handicapped. The secret to fooling everyone is just to use really great ingredients that will shine no matter what you throw together. Depending upon your skill level, even a simple salsa may feel like it’s over your head. But trust me, it really is not. It is buying and cutting. And seeing as you are reading, I’m guessing you can also accomplish these two things, as well.

I went to my local Farmer’s Market in search of some great ingredients for the next week. What I stumbled upon was this beauty.


So, I will admit, this was a $6 tomato (it weighed in at 1 lb.). BUT. Before you scoff, think about this… When you go to the grocery store, you buy hothouse tomatoes (grown in a dark warehouse) from somewhere else. They traveled a long way to get here. And although they look perfect, they are not yet ripe and delicious and perfect. And when you buy those “perfect” tomatoes, they still cost you $3.99 a pound. A pound is really only 2 or 3 medium tomatoes.

I say, this beautiful, perfectly ripe, local tomato is more along the lines of perfect. What better way to show off the brilliance of your shining Farmer’s Market find than to put it in a dish that features it raw, and happens to be an international favorite: salsa.

To offset the color of the tomato (and correspondingly, the unique flavor), I decided I wasn’t going to put it in a traditional salsa. Here is what I put together.

Confetti Salsa

1# Yellow Tomato (I would choose an Heirloom variety that appeals to you), diced

1 Red Jalapeno or Red Fresno Chile, chopped and de-seeded

1/3 C. Mango, chopped

2 T. Red Onion, chopped

1 T. Cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

This is a sweet salsa, not super spicy. If you prefer more spice, add another chile or put it through the food processor with the seeds. You could even hit it with a dash of lime to change the flavor profile a bit. This portion makes a small bowl, enough for an appetizer for 2-4 depending on the menu. But it will be a big hit so I’d double or triple the recipe. Grab some of your favorite tortilla chips and hit the road. None be the wiser that you were once kitchen handicapped.

Happy sharing!

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Summer Fennel Refresher

I don’t really drink soda. So when summer comes, I’m always looking for new beverages to peak my interest. I don’t have anything particularly against soda. It’s just that it’s so very…well, not real. So this summer, I had some extra fennel and opted to try something a little more real. The idea came to me when I cut off the stalk and realized there was a hole down the middle of it. “A straw!” I said. And a wonderful straw it was, indeed.

Also, if you are unfamiliar with fennel, it is the flavor of black licorice. Some call it anise, but it is not exactly anise, just very similarly flavored. This drink is reminiscent of root beer and ginger beer. The vanilla will add an element of cream soda. Since I love those flavors, it may come out a little strong or not sweet enough for you. Use more carbonated water and/or sugar, no harm done.

Summer Fennel Refresher

2 Medium-Large Stalks Fennel (just the green part)

1 T. Sugar

1 t. Molasses

1/4 t. Ground Ginger

12 oz. Chilled Carbonated Water

Optional:

1 t. Vanilla (I would use Vanilla Bean Paste)

1. Slice the smaller stalk of fennel very thin. Leave the larger stalk whole, cutting off each end until you can see the hole through the middle.

2. Muddle together fennel slices, sugar, molasses, ginger, and vanilla (if choosing to use) in a sturdy glass.

3. Pour carbonated water over the mixture and garnish with fennel straw. Use an extra fennel stalk with the fronds still on for more garnish, if you choose.

Happy refreshing!

Market Love

(Click title for photos to display properly)

I love a market. You know this already. I am an avid fan of supporting any and all local markets, whether a neighborhood Farmer’s Market or a local farm’s vegetable stand/garden store. This week was wonderful because it was full of markets of all sorts. I’ll keep this post simple. It is a blatant advertisement for you to go to your local markets. Here are a few photos to stimulate your senses.

Happy shopping!

Listen

Something about this song gets way down into my bones, like an anthem. I’m trying to keep my eyes fixed on the sun these days. Maybe you are, too. If you are, this song is dedicated to you.

 

Cage The Elephant – Shake Me Down

Shake me down,
Not a lot of people left around,
Who knows now,
Softly laying on the ground, ooooh
Not a lot people left around, ooooh. ooooh

In my life, I have seen,
People walk into the sea,
Just to find memories,
Plagued by constant misery,
Their eyes cast down,
Fixed upon the ground,
Their eyes cast down

I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun

Shake me down,
Cut my hair on a silver cloud,
Broken sound,
Softly laying on the ground, ooooh
Not a lot people left around, ooooh, ooooh

In my past, bittersweet,
There’s no love between the sheets,
Taste the blood, broken dreams,
Lonely times indeed,
With eyes cast down,
Fixed upon the ground,
Eyes cast down

I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun

Turn back now its time for me to let go,
Way down had to find a place to lay low,
Lampshade turned around into a light post

Walk around the corner,
Never saw it coming still,
I try to make a move,
It almost stopped me from belief,
I don’t wanna know the future,
But I’m like rolling thunder,

Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,

I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the-
I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the-
I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun

Shake me down,
Not a lot of people left around, ooooh, ooooh

Happy listening!

The Herb Garden

Okay, so it’s not a garden. It’s a window box with options.

3 days ago I watched a documentary that I cannot stop talking about. No. I mean, really. My friends and family are probably ready for me to shut up about it. But, tough luck.

The film Ingredients inspired me to a level that I haven’t been inspired in a while. There are things I have been interested in and have even been a natural part of my growing up process, but I have never considered them to be a “life path”. These things I would be speaking of are in the general “gardening, eating local, farmer’s market” genre. If you can’t tell that I’m that sort by the way this blog is shaping up, well…I don’t know what to tell you.

ANYWAY, Ingredients was all about farming and the local community. It was about teaching kids to garden and eat the vegetables they’ve grown. It was about our health and well-being as individuals and as a society. It was about a new way of living that is, in fact, a very old way of living. It was about the way things SHOULD be done and what some very fantastic (albeit few and far between) people are doing about it.

There are so many things I could say about the particulars of how it inspired me, but I think the post would go on far too long to keep your attention. Let’s say the inspiration went from a very large, hopeful, thought-provoked pile of long-term ideas all the way down to right now, today, this minute. And what I could do with today.

What I did with “today” was plant an herb garden. I have grown a few herbs in the past, but I didn’t really know what I should be growing and what I would actually use. I didn’t know the best way to take care of them. Then I moved. I started over with Basil and Cilantro but my Cilantro didn’t do so well. Now that my Basil has turned into a lovely and hearty plant, I thought it an appropriate time to start afresh.

Here’s my picture book:

After a little hesitation, I decided to add my Basil in with the bunch. I was afraid of crowding them. However, it worked out well because I had barely enough soil, even with the Basil. I will also be moving again soon, so having them all in one container makes for easier transportation.

Herbs are so inexpensive and great for adding a little bit of organic flavor to anything you are whipping up in the kitchen. Go buy some and let that green thumb of yours have a little fun!

Happy planting!

Trail Mix/Everything Cookie

Let’s be really honest here. We all “sort of” like trail mix. There is always the thing you like better than the other thing, even though you don’t actually dislike the other thing at all. You just really, really, really like the first thing. And you eat it all. The entire bag of trail mix is picked through so you can guarantee that you have found every last morsel of the thing you really, really like. Probably for most of us, it’s the chocolate. But there are a select few who actually the prefer the raisins and the nuts and the whatever else you threw in there.

And then, what do you do with the bag of trail mix? If you are me, this is how it goes:

1. I get bored with snacking on everything else, so I make some rad trail mix. 

2. I get an intense chocolate craving and realize I have none in the house. Except…in my one baggie of trail mix…

3. The now chocolate-less trail mix sits for days, being passed over time and again for a more, um, interesting snack. 

Exactly. It sits for days, all lonely and sad. And you won’t add more chocolate to it because, really, you learned your lesson. Until the next bag of trail mix you choose to create.

But the other day, I was, again, looking for something sweet. And something to create. (You will see these are themes in my life.) I had no chocolate in the house, but I did have the leftover trail mix. And the Trail Mix Cookie was born.

Trail MIx Cookie

1 1/4 C. All-Purpose Flour

1 C. Whole Wheat Flour

1 1/2 t. Salt

1 t. Baking Soda

1/2 t. Nutmeg (optional)

1/4 C. Olive oil*

1 t. Vanilla Bean Paste**

3/4 C. White Sugar

3/4 C. Brown Sugar***

2 Eggs

1 C. Trail Mix leftovers****

I’m going to assume you’ve made cookies before and not tell you every last detail of how to mix the cookie. But it’s basically like this:

1. Dry ingredients -separate bowl. Sift (I whisk).

2. Wet ingredients – mixer. Then eggs one by one.

3. Dry into wet alternately. Then add trail mix.

4. Un-greased baking sheet. Bake at 375F for 12-15 minutes.

I use a metal portion scoop that is all purpose for me. It’s a size 24, which means it is large enough to scoop ice cream but small enough for baked goods. (M/L Cookie = 1 scoop, L Muffin = 1.5 scoops) If you don’t have a portion scoop, use a heaping tablespoon to measure out.

* You may have noticed these cookies use olive oil. I am intentionally moving away from using butter and now bake all my cookies with olive oil. I love it. The cookies end up kind of crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They over-bake quickly, though. Keep an eye on them and take them out when they are slightly set on top. I recommend (carefully) moving them to a cooling rack pretty quickly because they can become difficult to remove after cooling. 

** If you have never heard of or used Vanilla Bean Paste, go find some. It is interchangeable with extract and bean on a 1-to-1 ratio. I could probably write an entire post on why I love it. But I won’t. 

*** I don’t buy brown sugar because it is just as easy, and less expensive, to make when you need it. I found that about a tablespoon of molasses per cup of sugar works for light brown sugar. But you can adjust it as you like it. 

****For trail mix leftovers, use anything you can imagine. Experiment here. That is the beauty of this cookie. My trail mix happened to have peanuts, pistachios, raisins, currants, grape nuts, and cinnamon. Keep in mind that if your trail mix is fairly salty, you may want to cut down the salt in the recipe accordingly. Also, I don’t like huge chunks in my cookies, so I ran mine through a food processor until they were a size I liked.

Happy creating!