Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Inside-Out Carrot Cakes

Inside-Out Carrot Cakes
Recipe from Sunset Magazine April 2008

As soon as I saw this recipe I was so excited for the chance to try it. The photo of little sandwich cookies made of carrot cakes and cream cheese frosting filling stayed on my mind for weeks. Finally last week my 3-year-old friend Jasper and I whipped up a batch of these little treats and they turned out great. The taste was sweet and spicy with many layers of flavor that lingered on after each bite. They were quite yummy and pretty simple to make-totally worth the effort. Enjoy!

Prep & Cook Time: About 1 hour
Makes: 10-12 cakes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup because the batter seemed runny)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt (I used sea salt)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
Pinch ground cloves
1/8 tsp each freshly, finely grated nutmeg and freshly, finely ground black pepper
6 tbsp vegetable oil (i used canola)
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg (i used organic free-range brown eggs)
1/4 cup sour cream (organic sour cream-NOT low fat-is great!)
1/4 tsp vanilla (no alcohol pure vanilla)
1 1/2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded on the fine side of a box grater (to yield 1 cup) (use organic carrots of course)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
Cream-cheese frosting (recipe follows)

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Put a dab of butter in each corner of 2 large baking sheets and lne with parchment.
2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, sour cream, and vanilla; stir in dry ingredients until well combined. Add carrots and coconut, stirring until just combined.
3. Drop t-tbsp circles of batter about 1 in apart on baking sheets. Bake until cooked through and browned slightly, 14 to 18 minutes. Cook on baking sheets.
4. Flip half of the cakes over; spread each with about 1 1/2 tbsp frosting. Top with remaining cakes to sandwich the frosting.

Cream-cheese frosting: Using a stand mixer (I used my hand mixer), beat 5 oz softened cream cheese until very soft. Add 3 tbsp softened unsalted butter and beat until smooth and well blended. Add 2/3 cup powdered sugar a third at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Beat in 1 tsp heavy cream or milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Yum. :)

Skillet Tofu Parmigiana

Skillet Tofu Parmigiana
Recipe from Eating Well Magazine March/April 2008

My friend pulled the recent edition of Eating Well magazine out of someones recycling bin. Recipe whore that I am, I coveted the magazine for 4 new tofu recipes. I'm always trying to find new ways to eat tofu. My tofu repertoire is somewhat limited, which is surprising for a vegetarian of my longevity. This tofu version of chicken or eggplant Parmesan is surprising, satisfying and delicious. Using just one pan for everything except the pasta is a great way to save time and cleanup. The recipe yields 4 big servings which meant I got 4 dinners out of one night of cooking and that is always welcome during my busy week. And, since I already had on hand an opened jar of marinara sauce, leftover shredded mozarella & parmesan, half a package of organic spaghetti, italian bread crumbs, an onion and all the spices-all I had to buy was the tofu and mushrooms!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Serve on Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti

1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp Italian seasoning
(Instead of this I just used 1/4 cup Italian seasoned dry breadcrumbs)
1-14 oz package firm or extra-firm water packed tofu, rinsed
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp plus 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped
8 oz white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup prepared marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1. Combine breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning in a shallow dish. Cut tofu lengthwise into 4 steaks and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides of the tofu with garlic powder and salt and then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their juices and begin to brown, 4 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pan. Add the tofu steaks and cook until browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn over and sprinkle with Parmesan. Spoon the mushroom mixture over the tofu, pour marinara over the mushrooms and scatter mozzarella on top. Cover and cook until the sauce is hot and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and serve on cooked pasta.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring Garden Update-April

Spring Garden Update...We continue to have crazy weather with snow just 3 days ago, hail, thunder, wind, lots of rain, and really really cold spring temperatures. This is exceeding the Portland average for Spring weather craziness. I am beginning to lose my tolerance and patience.

We are now past Portland's average last frost date of April 15. I know it's an "average" date of last frost, but come on, it's actually still snowing here and there. A week ago we had a 60 degree day followed by a sunny 85 degree day. It was incredible. Since my germinated seeds have been so slow to progress in my garden, I indulged in some instant gratification buying 2 tray packs of lettuce starts. Lettuce is relatively cool tolerant. I planted it in the empty bed that's set aside for summer squash planting in late May. I figure they will be fully grown and harvested by the time the weather has warmed up enough for planting summer squash. But, I actually ended up covering them with cardboard boxes overnight when it suddenly dipped into the low 30s again. All right then, the weather needs to take it's bipolar medication. That's my official opinion as a professional gardener and a former mental health professional.

Ok, now that I'm done complaining about the weather...So, when we had that lovely 85 degree day a week ago I went ahead and purchased and planted nursery starts of flowers & herbs to attract beneficial insects: dill, calendula, alyssum, bronze fennel, cosmos. Looks like they have survived the cold-snap that immediately followed their planting.

Most of the seeds I started in the end of February and through March germinated fine but have really ceased to grow due to the cold temperatures. I have only harvested a meager sampling of radishes, the perennial parsley & sorrel, also overwintered onions, and green garlic. My pea seeds were the first to go in the ground in late February and the seedlings have not grown above 1 inch. Peas like cool temperatures, and even they seem stunted by the cold weather.

I was surprised to find some small parsnips where I started parsnip seeds last summer in anticipation of a winter harvest. I did not harvest any parsnips this winter, in fact I thought all the seed failed. But here they are poking up their tall green tops and getting bigger every day. I'll have parsnips this spring which is a delightful unexpected surprise!

Here's to Spring Garden Surprises,
Miss Jolie Ann

Sorrel and Radish Salad

Sorrel and Radish Salad
Recipe from Sunset Magazine April 2008

If you've been paying attention to my gardening ramblings you will know that my spring garden has a few things ready to harvest and they happen to be sorrel and radishes. I was super excited to find this simple salad recipe in Sunset magazine. Make sure that the radish quantity outnumbers the sorrel leaves. If there is more sorrel, it's lemony flavor can really overwhelm everything else.

You can of course purchase sorrel and radishes for this recipe. Though I also really encourage you to include both these crops in your home garden. Radishes are ridiculously easy to grow from seed, they are a quick few weeks to harvest, and they can tolerate cold and warm weather. I started french sorrel from seed last summer. I had a nice harvest last year, it overwintered with a modest harvest during the coldest months when nothing else was in my garden, and at the beginning of spring it took off again with a vengeance.

Happy Eating & Happy Planting!
Miss Jolie Ann


Trim, rinse, and dry 3 bunches radishes (30 to 36 radishes). Slice radishes very thinly and put in a bowl. Add 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1/2 tsp grated ginger, and 1/4 tsp salt. Toss to combine. Lay 10 to 12 sorrel leaves (about 1 box or small bunch) in a stack and slice them crosswise into think ribbons. Toss sorrel with radishes. Add additional salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Fried Spiced Tofu

Fried Spiced Tofu
Recipe from Diet for a Small Planet
(10th Anniversary Edition)

Today's tofu recipe is going OLD SCHOOL from my battered and well-used copy of Frances Moore Lappe's classic Diet for a Small Planet. This early primer on vegetarian diet and cooking was originally published in 1971, the year after I was born, and the 10th Anniversary Edition came out when I was only 11 years old and not even thinking about anything vegetarian. I received my copy around 1996 when it was handed down to me from a roommate. The pages are now brown, stained, and torn. This week I decided to try a tofu recipe with FANTASTIC results. I made this fried spiced tofu recipe for my friend Catherine, served on brown rice with a sorrel & radish salad (recipe in another post). We devoured it all. The spice combination in the recipe seems a bit crazy, but wow does it taste delicious once done. So, grab some tofu and go OLD SCHOOL!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

1 pound tofu
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp each sweet basil, thyme, ground cumin, and curry powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce (I used Bragg's Liquid Aminos)
1/8 cup nutritional yeast

Drain tofu, pat dry, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Heat oil (in a wok, if you have one) and saute tofu over high heat for 5 minutes. Pour out excess water, reduce heat, and add turmeric; stir until tofu is uniformly yellow and add basil, thyme, cumin, and curry powder. Add garlic (and perhaps a little more oil to prevent sticking) and increase the heat; then add soy sauce and yeast. Saute until golden brown. Taste and add more soy sauce, if desired. Good hot or cold in sandwiches or tacos, or as a side dish.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring Goes On...Frost, Rain, Hail & Snow

In the first few weeks of "SPRING" we've had it all in Portland: rain, hail, sleet, even snow...crazy weather! And some cold cold days back in the 30s. Dang. Our freezing night temps and hard frosts are then sometimes followed by sunny days. My bird bath continues to freeze solid and plants that survived the winter are now flopping over seemingly dead from the hard frosts, dry days and cold winds.

This is really what spring is all about in Portland. Massive fluctuations in weather. As gardeners we get really excited and the unpredictable weather can severely undermine our gardening efforts if we make incorrect planting choices. After a winter of gardening dreaming and planting we get so excited when it's finally a sunny day or when the rain at last stops. Our enthusiasm can lead us into unwise choices regarding purchasing and planting. This is not the month for tomatoes, basil, sunflowers, or those beautiful hanging baskets with tender annuals like fuchsia and geraniums.

Hold off on those summer favorites and instead focus on your small fruit and perennial plantings. There are also several cool-hardy spring veggies that you can get planted from seed now like snow/snap/shelling peas, radishes, arugula, spinach, chard. It's also time to plant from seed Slow Bolt Cilantro. Check out "The Maritime Northwest Gardening Guide" by the Seattle Tilth for very practical advice on the timing of planting specific to our climate.

When we get a sunny day focus on spring clean-up in the yard and prepare your garden beds by amending with a good compost. Remember not to work your soil if it's still soaking wet from the rain. Wait until it has dried out. This month I've tried three different compost products and here are my reviews...

EB Stone Planting Compost: I amended my raised beds with it, particularly around my strawberries and I was not too impressed. I felt like it had way too many woody pieces in it. I would use it again for planting trees or shrubs, but not in beds for vegetables, strawberries, herbs, and annuals.

Black Forest Organic Compost: I amended my flower and herb bed with this product and I really liked it. It has a great consistency and it's color is dark and rich looking. It did not have the woody pieces of the EB Stone brand. I will definitely use this compost again for perennials, annuals, herbs, veggies, amending the ground and in raised beds. It's worth the money.

Bumper Crop: This product is made by Nurseryman's the same company that makes Black Forest products. It's a great amendment formula including mushroom compost, earthworm castings, lime, composted manures, and healthy bacteria. I'm using it to top dress in a raised bed that currently has overwintering onions and new spinach and chard seedlings. I am preparing the bed for my tomatoes plants that will go here in late May. I would absolutely recommend this product and will be using it again.

Happy Gardening,
Miss Jolie Ann

Golden Potato Gratin

Recipe inspired by "Golden Parsley Potatoes" in Diet for a Small Planet

This is a hearty filling delicious potato & cheese casserole packed full of calcium! The "golden" comes from lots of flavorful and colorful turmeric-which is great for your joints. (*Turmeric is especially helpful for those of us, like me, with arthritis!) Originally I tried the golden parsley potato recipe in Diet for a Small Planet and found it bland and lacking. However, it did inspire me to experiment with ingredients for a good potato & cheese casserole to warm and satisfy during the suppers of the cold winter and spring nights. During my experimentation I tried fresh parsley in this recipe and it turned out all gross brownish looking, so I've opted for dried parsley in every version since. This casserole is crisp on the top filled with a savory & slightly sweet creamy filling. Enjoy!
In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Makes 6 large servings
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a large casserole dish
2 large organic russet potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
1 medium organic yellow onion, peeled & thinly sliced
2 tbsp+ organic extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & black pepper
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp smoked paprika
In a large skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the potatoes, onion, turmeric, paprika and salt & pepper (to taste). Cover the pan and saute until the edges of potatoes & onions are crispy and the potatoes are soft but not mushy. This takes approximately 20 minutes.
While the potatoes cook, mix together in a large bowl the following ingredients:
3 organic brown eggs, beaten
2 cups organic nonfat cottage cheese
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp grated organic Parmesan cheese
Sea Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Combine cooked potato mixture with egg mixture in the large bowl. Once well mixed, pour into a lightly greased casserole dish. Top with:
2 cups grated organic mild or medium cheddar cheese
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.