My love of food

Food is so important to me, that it plays a major role in my first two novels. My husband also loves food and loves cooking (triple bonus points). When my husband retired, he started (no pun intended) making all our bread, using a hybrid starter based on the stuff floating around in the air at our house and a “starter kit” purchased from an online purveyor of San Francisco sourdough culture. (Loving the age of the Internet.)

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Sourdough

I’ve collected some of the food pictures I’ve posted in my Food tab, if you’d like to have a look. There are more pictures to add, but it’s a start.

Happy hump day. May you enjoy a nice dinner with good company today.

Squash flower and zucchini pizza

Tonight we made two pizzas from the garden. They were amazing, and pretty.

Here is the squash flower pizza before and after baking.

Squash Flower Pizza 1

Squash Flower Pizza 2

Here’s a close up of those zucchini flowers.

Pizza-4

It is an incredible joy to make something so delicious from the garden. We are using most of our water ration on the veggies and fruit trees, which makes indoor water use very challenging. Meals like this make all the water pinching worth it.

Here is the zucchini pizza, unfortunately after eating some! The photographer needed sustenance.

Pizza-2

The zucchini pizza has olive oil brushed on it, then a layer of shaved Parmesan cheese, the thinly sliced zucchini, and sauteed onions. The crust is homemade using special pizza flower and adding Italian herbs and garlic powder.

Both pizzas were equally awesome.

Good night, and happy weekend!

Thanksgiving menu, the keepers and the never agains

I thought of this post as I was making this stuffed kabocha squash because my plan was NEVER AGAIN! Ugh, it was awful trying to cut off the top of the squash. It might has well have been a rock. I did get the cleaver in about a millimeter then called for my husband. He managed to get through it, not low enough, but I just cut through the inner meat until I found the seed cavern. I cut up the little bits of squash that I had to cut away on my excavation and threw them into the center, once I cleaned out the seeds. Then the recipe proceeded mostly as planned. This was from a recipe in Sunset Magazine 2010, the contest winners. I use it every year for one of the recipes I’ll explain in a moment. This was the first time I tried the squash. We decided to modify the sauce for the veggies massively, to make it sweeter, low fat, and to lose the Asian taste (soy sauce).

Stuffed Kabocha Squash
Stuffed Kabocha Squash

Unfortunately, it was SO GOOD!!!! that it is on the keeper list. Next year we’re going to try to cut through it with the electric carving knife, but I think that will wreck the carving knife. I want my husband to get a clean blade for the Sawzall.

This year I also tried making the fresh cranberry relish that has lemon zest instead of oranges and with chopped ginger. The recipe called for crystallized ginger, but my husband said to use fresh instead. Well, I used the same amount of fresh that the recipe had called for as crystallized, and when I tasted it, my mouth exploded. We added more cranberries (thankfully we bought the jumbo bag at Costco) and more sugar, and after it was chilled, it came out really tasty. Powerful, but tasty. I also made the regular kind with just an orange and sugar.

Fresh Cranberry Relish, on with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest
Fresh Cranberry Relish, one with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest

The cranberry duet is also a keeper.

My husband smoked the turkey. It was incredible.

Smoked turkey
Smoked turkey

Verdict: keeper.

He made a totally vegetarian stuffing, using those vegetarian sausages you can get at Costco now. He used the chorizo flavored one, another idea from the same magazine. Sorry the photo is blurry. I was too bleary eyed from cooking and cleaning all day to notice!

Fresh Cranberry Relish, on with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest
Fresh Cranberry Relish, one with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest

And for the grand finale, (I already know I’m stuck making this every year…just kidding, I enjoy baking), sweet potato cheesecake with maple cream (not shown). This is why I open that old magazine every year. The fam has to have this.

Sweet Potato Cheesecake
Sweet Potato Cheesecake

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, what did you have, and did you enjoy it? Do you have any Never Agains? If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, does your country or household have any feast-oriented holidays? If so what do you like to eat and/or cook for that holiday?

Occasionarian diary 5, Italian style, crock-pot recipe, veggie

1. Soak a cup of beans overnight. I used a quarter cup each of black, Mayacoba, pinto, and hominy. Then rinse them.

Step 1, after soaking, rinse the beans
Step 1, after soaking, rinse the beans

2. Get the beans started. Put them in the crock pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Turn it on high.

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Step 2, get the beans started

3. Gather veggies. These are from our garden. Choose whatever you want, but the tomatoes are a must. I didn’t use the little hot ones as this is Italian, not Mexican this time. But I did use the one jalapeno for flavor. It isn’t very hot.

Tomatoes and peppers
Tomatoes and peppers
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Yellow squash that we let too big and rock hard, but no problem, the slow cooker will soften it
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Eggplant
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Basil…required
The stinking rose, but of course
Garlic…but of course! Sorry for the little camera strap…

4. Chop all the veggies, but do the onions and garlic first, plus peppers, old gourds, and eggplant if you use them.
5. Saute the “aromatics” (onions and garlic) and the eggplant and peppers while you chop up the tomatoes and basil. Once done, add them to the crock pot so you can saute the hard squash. If you aren’t using a hard squash, skip step 6.

Olive oil
Olive oil
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Sauteing the aromatics, peppers and eggplant (because those all taste better if sauteed in olive oil first)

6. If you are using an impossibly hard old squash, saute that too.

Veg Slow Cook Italian Style20

7. De-glaze the pot with some wine or sherry to get the yummy brown stuff off the bottom.

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8. Throw everything in the crock pot.

Veg Slow Cook Italian Style229. Add a teaspoon of salt, a couple teaspoons of Italian seasoning, and stir.

 

Occasionarian diary 3

As I shared in Being an occasionarian, I’ve shifted to mostly veg.

There are so many great things to eat that are vegetarian. Perhaps my favorite are the things you can have with afternoon tea. These are Kolaches, which I pulled from one of my favorite old cookbooks:

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Kolaches, cookies and Great American Home Cooking
Kolaches, cookies and Great American Home Cooking

Here’s a better picture of the English shortbread cookies, which are also from Great Home Cooking in America. (I only have three shapes of cookie cutter, hence the shamrocks… but it is February, so the shape seems appropriate!)

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These root vegetables and garlic look so pretty waiting to be prepared:

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And then there’s breakfast:

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I recently saw the Alfred Hitchcock movie, Vertigo, and ever since, I’ve wanted to have three dimensions in my photos. So I didn’t crop these photos, wanting to leave indicators of the three dimensions in them.

Being an occasionarian

We were eating veg 2 days a week. Now we are eating veg 5 days a week. Our son informed us there’s a word for that: “Occasionarian!”

Guess what’s really good? Carrot pizza!

Assembling half and half pizza (the carrot side is vegan, the tomato side is vegetarian):

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Putting on the herbs, sauteed garlic slices on the vegan side, garlic powder and Italian herbs on the plain veg side
Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven
Fresh from the oven
Ready to munch
Ready to munch

This recipe was incredible. It’s from the Moosewood cookbook. Their recipes have a lot of prep but are great. This one was topped by cheese. You could leave that off or use vegan cheese. The “meat” is beans.

Mooswood Chilaquile Casserole
Mooswood Chilaquile Casserole