We’ll be out in the garden working as hard as the ants do this weekend, our family is just a wee bit smaller than theirs. Happy weekend to you!
Rachelle Weymuller @ Caramelize Life
“Making Life A Little Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”
A favorite in our home because we love Italian food anything, it’s healthy and a snap to make.
When my daughter was four she came in from munching sweet cherry tomatoes and basil in the garden and exclaimed ” We have a grocery store in our backyard!” Then she asked…”can we grow a mozzarella plant?” She asked the proper question; can we? If only that were possible. “I wish we could.” was my answer. However, these questions did open the door to researching how mozzarella is made, and where it comes from. I’ve not yet ventured to make it myself, but I hear Mozzarella is pretty easy to produce, so I’ll have to try it and get back to you about that.
Until then, here’s our favorite bruschetta recipe:
1 Local baguette sliced (I love the Mazama Store’s because it has a wee bit of salt on top)
2-3 Red, preferably heirloom, garden tomatoes (however with snow still on the ground, organic vine-ripened tomatoes have the most flavor)
15 Basil leaves or as many as you have slices of bread
Fresh mozzarella (you can find the pre-sliced kind at some stores) to top the slices of bread
salt for sprinkling
Olive oil (Italian) to drizzle
Balsamic Vinegar (aged has a sweeter flavor, but any will do) to drizzle
1. Toast the slices of bread, or if you have time put them over the grill or gas burner, to toast
2. Add sliced mozzarella
3. Add Basil face up to catch some of the oil and balsamic drizzle
4. Add sliced tomatoes to each
5. Sprinkle with salt
6. Drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
* Thank you to Diane, Geof, Linda, Marc, Hannah and Eva for patiently waiting to devour these tasty bites while E.A did his photo dance to capture the bruschetta when freshest.
Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
“making life a little sweeter, through food, travel and community”
Today I sat down to write but found myself procrastinating by looking through my iPhoto library reminiscing about an Ireland trip we took a few years back. This trip ranks high in my all time favorites. We shared it with family and good friends, where we traveled through rolling fields following rainbows start to end, finding our Irish luck in the form of sunshine mid March.
That year my husband turned forty ceremoniously on St. Patrick‘s Day. We learned about falconry, bog ponies, and I found one of my favorite cookbooks The Forgotten Skills of Cooking. We enjoyed our share of Guinness and sampled potato leek soup along the way.
My littlest, is a connoisseur of potato leek soup, she has a discerning palate for the tastiest homegrown potato. She is also privy to the whole process, kudos to Tess Hoke, founder of Local 98856 and the Methow Valley Community School Locavores lunch program where she learned the garden to table journey.
Years later and I am still trying to perfect that tasty soup and win her nod. Until tonight, when I received that approvingly tilt of her towhead and a unanimous two thumbs up from the rest of my family. Nothing feels so good as a warmed bowl of soup steaming with flavor, a local brewed beer in a handcrafted glass to finish off the evening.
Potato Leek Soup (serves 6 but I usually double it for left overs and lunch boxes)
[inspired and introduced to me from “around my french table” and Stew Dietz Event Planning and Catering]
What you will need:
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 large organic onions chopped
2 organic garlic cloves, germ removed and crushed
Salt, freshly ground white pepper
3 organic leeks white parts only spit lengthwise and chopped thinly
2 large organic russet potatoes peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon dried thyme or a few fresh sprigs
1 teaspoon dried sage or a couple fresh leaves
4 cups homemade vegetable stock (we have a mixture of folks around our table so I play it safe and go veggie most of the time but any stock or water will work).
1 cup whole milk
2 cups half and half (you can omit this and use water, or any combination of dairy just remember it will be lighter).
4-5 croutons per serving
What to do with your scrumptious ingredients:
melt the butter adding onion until coated then add in garlic, salt and pepper, cover and cook until onions are soft 6 minutes or so (making sure not to burn them)
Add leeks, potatoes, thyme, sage, stock and dairy
bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until potatoes and leeks are soft
Serve in warmed bowls topped with croutons
let soup cool and puree into a thick and creamy soup, then warm and serve
top with cheese or add some colorful chives
serve cold and top with pear or apple
Funny little fact:
In the nineteenth century potatoes were accused of leading housewives astray due to the fact that potatoes required so little time and effort to prepare that it left female hands idle and primed to do the Devil’s work. [good thing I’m too busy for any of that! ;-)]
Bain sult as do bhéile! (enjoy your meal)
Rachelle @caramelize life
“making life a little sweeter through food, travel and community”
It was a perfect time of year and a wonderful opportunity to work with a fantastic group of women in a garden to table cooking class.
Caramelize Life was kindly invited by Methow Arts Alliance and Sun Mountain Lodge to bring local produce and share simple recipes that could be made quickly at home with a lovely group of women visiting the Methow Valley.
It happened to be perfect timing for the class as the garden was in full production and ingredients were as fresh as could be. On stage were succulent Heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs, a selection of creamy chèvre from Sunny Pine Farm and locally sourced salmon.
We all had a splendid time whipping up seasonal fair and an even better time sampling from our work.
Seasoned with, , dill and .
And fresh sautéed.
A quick and easy dish that is balanced and scrumptious too!
Wild caught salmon is the best, both in flavor and nutrients. Having worked in the Alaskan fishing industry in my 20’s I know it’s not an easy job and am thankful to be able to stock up on quality salmon each season.
Our mountains are not quite close enough to the ocean and inlets so we stock our freezer like squirrels in the fall with all things good. That’s when I place an order with our neighbor Fran, owner of Misty Fjord Seafood who I’m pretty sure is actually Super Woman. I end up guesstimating how many filets and pieces of fish we’ll need until the next season, and if we end up with extra we have it smoked so that we can enjoy it on hikes with a little goat cheese and good bread.
If you’ve got freezer space I highly recommend stocking up. Having it on hand makes dinner a snap!
1 wild salmon fillet
3 pressed cloves of garlic
1 sliced onion
1 lemon (half sliced and half for juice)
a handful of asparagus spears
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dill weed
3 tablespoons of quark, sour cream, mayo or LEMONAISE®
3 cups of orzo
2 tablespoons olive tapenade
sun-dried tomatoes (a jar or 9-10 from your pantry chopped)
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/2 parmesan cheese (optional)
dash of white wine for sauteing
~preheat the oven to 400f
~Defrost the fillet in its packaging (it is recommended to do so in the refrigerator but under running water has worked in a pinch. You can save the water and use it to feed your plants).
~Next prep the garlic, onions and dill sauce
~combine the quark, sour cream or mayo with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice, dill weed and mix. Omit the lemon if using LEMONAISE®
~Once defrosted place the fillet on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet for easier clean up.
~Drizzle olive oil onto the fillet, sprinkle dill weed and add slices of the onion, garlic and lemon (squeeze the slices just a bit) and cover with foil.
~Bake for 15-20 minutes checking for done-ness = when the salmon flesh turns to a light pink.
Now, prepare the orzo while the salmon is baking.
Orzo is quick and a favorite with our kids. To make it an all around hit I add a little color and flavor with sun-dried tomatoes, keeping it quick and easy I use a pre-made olive tapenade that I have on hand for easy appetizers. If you have time and can make your own I am sure you’ll be rewarded. Another crowd pleaser and healthy addition, is to add pine nuts.
Next, prep the asparagus. This is fun because it is fresh right now and in the backyard, easily gathered by the kids and they love it.
~Once the asparagus is washed, then saute it with a little white wine until tender and set the asparagus aside.
~By the time the orzo is finished, your salmon should be done as well.
~warm plates if you want
~mix the olive tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts into the orzo and add the parmesan cheese.
~serve right away with a small dollop of dill sauce on top of the salmon.
More salmon recipes here
I love to make enough for leftovers. Extra orzo is great for lunches, add pesto to change it up or make it into a salad. It’s perfect hot or cold.
Leftover salmon is nice for morning egg scrambles, add chevre, chives and spinach for a healthy start.
If you are interested as to why I choose wild salmon over farmed raised there are a number of reasons and it is important to know why and what you are putting into your body. I don’t think we can trust that someone else will be looking out for our best interests. I feel it is important to educate oneself and spread the word on sustainable practices that benefit all. If your curiosity is piqued, then please check out the following links and make your own choice.
David Dobs describes the life of a wild salmon and the confusion between wild and farmed in his 2008 article in Eating Well named The Wild Salmon Debate “He [the salmon] eats with an open mind—other fish, mollusks, and lots and lots of krill and other planktonic crustacea that have feasted on red algae. This diet turns his flesh pink and rich in omega-3 fatty acids.”
Now what’s for dessert?
Rachelle @ caramelizelife
Spring has sprung literally in the last week, here in the Methow Valley.
We’ve enjoyed the first couple of Farmers Markets held each Saturday 9am to noon. Our early spring heat wave has been kind to all the vendors and welcomed shoppers with a warm embrace.
For years I’ve been a patron to any farmers markets I can find either at home or abroad. The market can be a unique window into local communities health and its products. Market atmospheres are lively and festive. They celebrate our earth and what it can produce. Markets highlight and strengthen our ties to how and where our foods are processed and originate. Not everyone can live on a farm and learn from family traditions handed down each generation but most everyone can find a farmers market and take the opportunity to meet and learn from the farmers themselves.
Markets move with the seasons from the beginning seedlings in the early spring to the mounds of apples, spices, jams and jellies in the late summer harvest times. This seasonal reminder of what our local land provides is something that becomes forgotten in the long outer isles of the mega supermarkets. I know, I love bananas in my smoothies and pineapple too. I am not ready for a strict change but I do appreciate the fresh reminder to clean out the cob webs in my brain and love the fact that I can challenge myself to finding Saturday night’s dinner at the market.
If you would like a little help in the area of spring cleaning of the cerebral spider webs there’s an app for that! Ok, not really but if you are tech savvy and have an iPhone, sorry Blackberry and Android, you can download an App to find out what’s in season it’s called NRDC Eat Local.
Wendy Gorden of the Huffington post described the app perfectly in her blog New App Answers: What’s in Season Near You? it is worth the read.
I also adore the life lessons the market imparts to our children. They learn from example and experiencing the arts and local agricultural producers at a personal level is such a gift. Taken a little further and the market is inclusive allowing children to try their hand at their own entrepreneurial endeavors. Read my post life lessons a budding entrepreneur at the farmer’s market to learn more on this topic.
Each Market has it’s own structure and set of guidelines to help it run smoothly so check in with yours before you jump in feet first.
Market Dinner or Breakfast Challenge:
Simple Scramble with Chevre and Spring Greens
1 Tbsp oil (your choice; coconut oil gives a nice change in flavor, olive or grape seed oil or butter)
1 Tbsp chevre we used organic chevre from sunny pine farms
1 cup spring greens (washed, torn or chopped and stems removed) For a fun you could forage and use Dandelion greens! (remember to properly identify the plant, make sure it hasn’t been sprayed and pick young fresh leaves. Their bitterness will mellow and blend nicely with the eggs).
1 Tbsp chopped fresh seasonal herbs (your choice; chives, rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro etc)
salt and pepper to taste
A slice from a fresh baguette or rosemary bread to toast.
Each market is unique to its region and what it can offer, when in France, I love to add olives to this scramble or capers.
~Wash, tear or chop spring greens and herbs and set aside
~Pre-warm two serving bowels
~Slice bread and put in the toaster
~Crack eggs in a medium-sized bowel and beat with a fork until mixed. Then add half of your seasonal herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
~In a preheated nonstick or cast iron saute’ pan add oil, and then the egg and herb mix. Scramble the eggs turning from the outside in. Right before eggs are fully cooked add the chevre and remove from heat. Then, divide into equal portions (or as much as you are hungry for)and place in your warmed bowel.
~Next, add a tablespoon or so of water and wilt greens in your saute’ pan turning constantly until wilted and then pour over chevre and egg scramble.
~Sprinkle with the second half of the fresh herbs.
~Add salt and pepper to taste
Find your Farmers Market!
Here in the Methow we are lucky to have a few:
The folks at Local Harvest. Org make it easy to do just that. Click on the link and enter your zip code or state and they will point you in the right direction. It is a great tool to use especially if you are traveling.
Here are a few more links to help you find a market near you:
See you at the Market!
Rachelle @ Caramelizelife