Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Farmers Markets in Portland

Good Morning!

This Saturday is May 1st and that means lots of the farmers markets in Portland are opening up. This is very exciting news for a seasonal eater! It's been a long 6 months without my favorite farmers market. And, I've been without my own garden since November. I am so ready for some farm fresh produce. And, since my new community garden isn't even planted yet, I'm going to be completely reliant on the farmer's market for a few months.

In 2009 I began attending my small neighborhood farmers market. I attended every week the entire season. I got to really know the farmers and vendors. My favorite non-produce vendor was the goat cheese stand staffed by a 10 year old girl who's family owns the farm. She is a great salesperson and can tell you all about living on a goat farm and working with her goats. Plus, the chevre is amazing. I highly recommend the blueberry lavender chipotle chevre. It is phenomenal.

Farmers do not make a lot of money from these small neighborhood farmers markets. The larger heavily attended farmer's markets like Downtown or Hollywood District on Saturdays are what sustain them. But, what I love about the smaller neighborhood markets is the slower less frantic pace. I have ample space to peruse all the booths without being crowded by masses of people. I have the opportunity to talk with the farmers and vendors. And, there's always easy parking.

Here's a link to all of the Portland area farmers markets. If you have a favorite, let me know. I'd love to check it out this Summer.

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Big Bowl of Happiness for Catherine

Dear Readers,

My BFF Catherine and I were talking about her recent travels and how we sometimes find ourselves without healthy vegetarian food. This is especially complicated if one is gluten-free, or has food allergies such as eggs or dairy. When returning from such trips cooking and enjoying nourishing food is vital. It is in this spirit that I whipped up tonight's recipe.

It's just a big bowl of happiness and health. Looks great and tastes delicious. Big bowl recipes are simple and improvisational. I got the idea originally from Heidi at 101 cookbooks. 2 years ago I was inspired by her recipe and created my own "Quinoa Big Bowl with Garlic Spinach & Roasted Yams" recipe. What's funny, is now when I went back and checked out Heidi's original recipe she talked about traveling and how much she craved healthy earthy quinoa and cooking for herself as soon as her plane landed. Whoa. Seriously, I did not read that before coming up with tonight's recipe. I guess it's a universal experience for healthy eating foodie cooks.

For a Big Bowl, start with a tasty whole grain. Usually I choose quinoa, but tonight it's short grain brown rice. Followed by delicious sauteed potatoes, wilted spinach & chard with garlic, sauteed fresh local asparagus, rounded out with garbanzo beans, and finished with toasted walnuts. Mix. Devour. Yum. In my photos it looks very composed. But, when I eat it, I just mix it all together.

This kind of meal helps me feel so nourished. It's gluten-free, vegan, and loaded with fiber, protein and fresh vegetables. Olive oil and walnuts give a boost of omega fatty acids. Trust me, this big bowl is all around goodness. And I hope it makes my Catherine very happy. It's making me happy right now.

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Big Bowl of Happiness Recipe
Makes 4 large servings

1 cup short grain brown rice
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 yukon gold potatoes, diced
1/4 tsp tumeric
sea salt & black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch spinach, washed & chopped
1 bunch chard, washed & chopped
1 bunch asparagus, washed, tough ends cut off, sliced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Put the brown rice with 2 cups water in a pot and cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 50 minutes. Set aside.
2. While the brown rice is cooking, prepare the rest of the recipe. In a skillet warm a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and the tumeric. Cover and cook over medium heat about 15 minutes. Potatoes should be tender and browned. Set aside.
3. In the now empty skillet, add another splash of olive oil. Add the garlic, spinach, and chard. Ad a pinch of salt and black pepper. Cook uncovered over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Greens should be wilted, still bright green, and the garlic should be fragrant. Set aside.
4. In the now empty skillet, add another splash of olive oil . Add the asparagus and another pinch of salt. Cook uncovered for about 5 minutes. Asparagus should be bright green and still firm. Set aside.
5. In the now empty skillet, add the walnuts. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until they are starting to brown and have released their fragrant oils.
6. Assemble the brown rice, potatoes, greens, asparagus, and garbanzo how you would like in individual bowls or family style on a large platter. Top with the toasted walnuts.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beet Salad with Creamy Chevre Dressing

Dear Readers,

Happy Sunshine here in Portland! Today I am feeding my craving for beets. Literally. A salad composed of beets in a creamy chevre dressing with mustard, balsamic and thyme. It's simple and sublime. I tried really hard to work "sublime" into this post because it rhymes with thyme. Were you on to me? :)

This simple, but exquisitely delicious beet salad is divine on it's own. However, I also envision it as a jumping off point for more elaborate add-in's and recipes. It would feature lovely over mixed baby greens, perhaps sorrel & arugula or beet greens. Top it with some toasted walnuts or hazelnuts. It would pair nicely with cooked beans, perhaps baby navy beans. A cooked whole grain such as quinoa or brown rice would add substance and texture. I imagine this beet salad on a picnic sandwiched between slices of hearty bread with baby greens and some chunky shavings of asiago cheese and creamy wedges of fresh mozzarella. Seriously, that's the kind of food I pack on picnics. You should come with me some time and find out. Suddenly I have a hankering to hike Silver Falls State Park. One of my favorite places.

Today I am eating this salad straight out of the bowl I mixed it in. Nothing fancy. No add-in's. I am using a spoon. I just love the earthy flavor of beets. They satisfy me to the core. Enjoy!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Beet Salad with Creamy Chevre Dressing
Makes 4 servings

6 beets
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 tsp prepared dijon mustard
1/4 tsp fresh thyme, minced
2 tbsp chevre (brought to room temperature)
pinch of sea salt & black pepper

1. To cook the beets, pop off their tops and discard or use for another recipe (they are great sauteed). Rinse them a little, but no need to scrub or peel. Place them in a large pot filled with water and cover. Boil over high-medium heat for about 20-30 minutes. They should be soft when you pierce them with a fork. Cooking time varies based on how large are the beets.
2. Remove beets from heat. Drain. Place them in cold water and set aside while you prepare the dressing.
3. In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Use a wire whisk and beat until everything is combined and creamy. Check the flavor and add a dash of sea salt & black pepper to your desired likening.
4. Now that the beets have cooled enough to handle, it should be easy to pull their skins off. They should slip off in pieces. This is my favorite part of cooking with beets. Discard the peels. Compost them please. Now cut the beets into halves, then cut those into halves. Slice your quarter pieces of beets.
5. Add beets to the dressing and stir until combined. I like to let this salad sit for about an hour to absorb all the flavors before serving.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Meyer Lemon-Vanilla Sourdough French Toast

Good Morning Readers!

As you know, lately I've been quite interested in egg recipes, since my weekly eggs from Happy Tortoise Farm began gracing my kitchen. These fresh little light green and brown eggs have endeared themselves into my heart and my belly. Sometimes I get them so fresh from the farm that the dirt and straw still cling to their delicate colorful shells. I eagerly anticipate cracking open each egg and never cease to be surprised and amazed at how solid and orange the yolks are.

Today I choose to make a delicious french toast with some of my eggs. I indulged in some sourdough bread, which is a gluten-free no-no for me. Life is too short for shame people, so I say honor your indulgences and jump in with both feet! Oh taboo-full-of-gluten sourdough bread, how I've missed you. Typically, I favor a fresh local Challah bread for french toast. I had sourdough loaf in my pantry because yesterday I was really craving toasted sourdough with my curry egg salad recipe.

Today's french toast recipe is sans maple syrup for good reason. I once had a lover who cooked me breakfast in bed and arrived with delicious smelling french toast. I asked her where was the maple syrup and she handed me a halved lemon and a spoonful of powdered sugar. I thought she was crazy. I followed her lead and squeezed the lemon on the steaming hot french toast and then the powdered sugar. Maybe it was the morning-after-glow, but that combination of sugar sweet and tangy sour lemon was heavenly. It's the only way I've eaten french toast ever since.

In this recipe I call for meyer lemons, which in my book are the absolute royalty of lemons. The flavor is unequaled in the world of lemons. They are literally bursting with flavor onto your french toast. The tang of the sourdough bread and lemon, is a perfect compliment for the sweetness of the vanilla and powdered sugar. They meld together in lovely harmony for your taste buds.

The smell of this recipe cooking is delightful and intoxicating. I recommend you make it as breakfast in bed for someone you love and create your own french toast memory. Enjoy!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Meyer Lemon-Vanilla Sourdough French Toast
Makes 4 pieces of french toast

3 eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened plain soymilk or cow milk
1 tbsp pure alcohol-free vanilla extract
4 meyer lemons
1 tsp lemon zest
4 slices sourdough bread
powdered sugar

1. Warm about 1tbsp butter in a skillet over medium-low heat.
2. While the pan is warming up, in a wide shallow bowl combine the eggs, soymilk, vanilla, lemon zest and juice of one lemon. Beat with a whisk until just combined.
3. Dip each slice of bread in the egg mixture, one at a time. Let each slice absorb egg mixture, but not linger in the bowl too long. Add slices to the awaiting warm butter skillet.
4. Cook bread slices over medium-low heat. Cook each side a few minutes until they are browned and egg is cooked. Flip after cooking first side. Sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg. Not a lot. Just a sprinkle per slice on one side.
5. When bread is browned on both sides remove from the pan. Halve the 3 meyer lemons. Squeeze one half lemon on each slice of french toast. Sprinkle with as much powdered sugar as you desire. I use about 1 tbsp per slice. Garnish french toast with lemon slices. Serve hot.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Asparagus Carrot Stir Fry with Cashews

Dear Readers,

Have I mentioned asparagus season? Ha! It's just beginning. Today I made a simple stir-fry of asparagus and carrots that totally hits the spot. For the best flavor possible use young spring carrots for this recipe. I'm not talking about your bland storage carrots typically seen in the grocery store. If you don't grow your own, then choose the thinnest, tops-still-on, bright crisp carrots you can find. The same goes for the asparagus. Choose pencil thin stalks. Do not buy fat asparagus. It's not worth it.

Once you've cut the veggies this recipe takes about 5 minutes to cook. So, we're talking a satisfying healthy meal in about 15 minutes. You can't beat that. That's all I have, because I really want to go eat this now. Enjoy!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Asparagus-Carrot Stir Fry with Cashews

1 bunch thin asparagus, tough ends removed and stalks slice in half
1 bunch young carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 tbsp canola oil
about 1 tbsp wheat-free reduced-sodium tamari
fresh ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup toasted lightly salted cashews

1. Clean & chop the asparagus, carrots and garlic and you are halfway there.
2. Warm the canola oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.
3. Add the asparagus, carrots, splash of tamari, pinch of black pepper to the pan. Stir-fry over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. You want the veggies to be somewhat soft, but still bright colors and slightly crunchy.
4. Add the garlic and the cashews. Cook for about 2 minutes more. Do not overcook!
5. Serve hot over brown rice, soba noodles, with tofu or just by it's beautiful delectable self.

Broccolini Quiche with Potato Rosemary Crust (Gluten-Free)

Dear Readers,
I love a good quiche. What's not to like? Eggs, cheese, veggies, and a buttery crust. Yum. Yum. Yum. Quiche is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. It's leftover keep well for me to nibble on all week.

My co-worker Kelly & her partner operate Happy Tortoise Farm on Sauvie Island and I'm getting fresh delicious eggs from their flock every week. Once you've had fresh eggs, there is no going back. The yolks are an amazing shade of bright orange and incredibly dense. When you whisk fresh eggs they have a completely different texture and a brightness of color that store bought eggs can not compare. With these beautiful eggs I was eagerly planning a quiche recipe for this week.

Then my friend Carrye forwarded me a link about a gluten-free quiche crust challenge from the blog "The Gluten-Free Homemaker." Game on. I'm up for a good challenge. Rather than construct a standard pie crust-flour, butter, cold water with a gluten free flour I went for the extraordinary. I created a gluten-free pie crust out of grated red skin potatoes, fresh rosemary from my herb garden, toasted pecans, and of course butter. It's flavors are amazing. The edges of the crust peaking up above the custard get toasted brown & crunchy tasting like heavenly little potato chip bites. And, while this gluten-free crust doesn't have the same flaky consistency of a flour based pie crust, I believe it totally holds it own.

For the filling I choose broccilini, because it just looked so seductive in the produce market. Often my ingredients choose me. It's rarely the other way around. It seems they see me coming a mile away and put on their best and freshest faces. Broccolini is basically a type of broccoli with loose flowerettes, rather than forming a tight head like typical broccoli. I combined the broccolini with bright gold ribbed swiss chard and mushrooms. For cheese I choose Chevre, because it's creaminess is a perfect compliment to the eggs in the custard. And Asiago cheese for it's nutty flavor.

This recipe is a little labor intensive, taking in total about 2 hours to prep, cook, and bake. It might be a little quicker for you if you aren't taking photos and writing notes every step of the way. Ha! Everything in my kitchen takes longer. Thankfully, it's a labor of love.

If you take the gluten-free quiche crust challenge and create your own recipe, be sure to leave me a link in your comments. I'd love to check it out. Have a wonderful day.

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Broccolini Quiche with Potato-Rosemary Crust
Makes 6 servings

Gluten-Free Crust:
3 red skin potatoes
1/4 of a red onion
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp toasted pecans
1 beaten egg
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix

1/2 purple onion, minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & black pepper
1 bunch broccolini, chopped, about 2 cups
8 mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 large swiss chard leaves, stems & greens chopped
1 tsp lemon zest
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated

6 eggs
sea salt & black pepper
1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1/8 tsp dried mustard
2 oz Chevre goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Grease a 9 inch pie pan

1. Wash and peel the potatoes. Peel the red onion. Using the shred attachment on your food processor, drop in the potatoes and onions. Remove the shred attachment and add the normal blade to food processor. To the shredded potatoes and onions now add the rosemary, lemon zest, sea salt, pecans and butter. Pulse a few times to combine. You don't want it to turn to mush.
2. Remove this mixture from the food processor. In a bowl combine with the beaten egg and gluten free baking flour. Stir until just combined.
3. Press crust batter into the greased pie pan.
4. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Turn down oven to 350 degrees.

While pie crust is baking, prepare the quiche filling:

5. Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions with a dash of sea salt & black pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute another 5 minutes. Add the broccolini and swiss chard. Add the lemon zest and squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Saute for a few minutes more. You only want the broccolini and chard to slightly wilt. They should still be crunchy and bright green. Remove from heat.
6. Place the cooked veggie mixture in the cooked pie crust. Sprinkle on the grated asiago cheese.

Set aside while you make the custard:

7. In medium sized bowl beat the eggs with a metal whisk. Add the chopped chives, a pinch of sea salt & black pepper, and the dried mustard. Whisk until combined. Crumble the Chevre into small pieces and add to the eggs. Whisk until combined. There will be pieces of Chevre and that is just perfect.
8. Pour the egg mixture over the waiting veggies in pie crust.
9. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
10. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A New Tiny Herb Garden for Miss Jolie

Dear Readers,

I am currently typing with dirt under my fingernails and that feels really really good. As you know I moved out of my house and garden in December. Today I realized I have not gardened since last October. And, that is just way too long for this dirt loving plant nerd earth mama. Tragic, I'd say. This morning I was feeling quite discouraged about my knee injury and I knew that getting my hands in some soil was just what I needed to feed my soul.

Behind my new apartment is a small brick lined raised bed, just laying empty. It is not in the most optimal spot as it is situated on the west side of my apartment getting shade from my apartment to the east and a large established Doug Fir tree to the south. I had been pondering over what to do with this tiny area for months. Should I try to plant some vegetables more tolerant of shade like lettuce and salad greens, perhaps a cutting flower garden, some strawberries? I finally settled on an herb garden. I can't live without herbs. For many years I had my own large garden bursting with every culinary herb imaginable. I was not in the habit of purchasing herbs when I went grocery shopping. As I was cooking, I would just walk into my garden and snip what I needed for that meal. I am ready for that again.

With my injured knee, the thought of gardening appeared a challenge. However, I knew it's what I needed today. And, there was a break in the rain. So I propped myself up on a milk crate so that I was not bending or bearing any weight on my injured knee. It was an interesting way to garden that I'm not accustomed to, but it worked for this tiny garden. I weeded, added my custom vegan fertilizer blend, and added a bag of compost. I installed a trellis up against the wall of my garden shed, which will serve as support to the 3 types of peas I planted. Since I'm getting such a late start planting peas, in addition to seeds, I planted a couple of plants acquired from my friend Laura's nursery "Mostly Medicinals." I'm excited for these yellow podded purple flowered peas that are heirloom seeds from India. And thank you to Peggy for sharing her leftover pea seeds. It's just not Spring without peas!

I started my tiny herb garden with a few culinary basics: rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, cilantro, chives and lavender. When the weather warms up I will add basil, tarragon, lemon verbena, and shiso. I'm also thinking I can't live without thyme, yerba buena, winter and summer savory, mint, lemon balm, chamomile, fennel, sweet bay, marjoram...did I mention I love herbs?

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Coconut Orange Cornmeal Pancakes (Gluten-Free)

Good evening!
I just threw these pancakes together for dinner tonight. I wasn't quite sure how the ingredients would work together, but they turned out great. They turned out so tasty I could barely save any to photograph before I dug into them. Enjoy!

This week one of my friends asked me how I came up with recipes. It's hard to explain. It's just the most natural thing in the world for me. Ever since I can remember my brain is always spinning with recipe ideas. Seriously people, I have memories of this from around 10 years old when I tried to make up meals for my poor family! Waking and sleeping, my brain is a buzz with ideas to cook food, style food, serve food and write about food. My friend who asked me this question, she plays the bass. And I told her just like her playing bass, for me cooking is my creative expression. This week, I was reading an article by Anne Lamott in Sunset magazine and I related to her describing this creative process as the sustenance of life. Cooking and gardening, photographing it, and writing about it is what makes my life fulfilling. What fulfills you? What gives your life meaning, purpose and joy? If you feel like sharing, I'd love to hear it. Now, back to the pancakes...

In Delicious Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

1 cup gluten free pancake mix
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, plus extra for garnish
2 eggs
1 tbsp alcohol-free pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened plain soymilk
1 tsp orange zest, plus extra for garnish
juice of one fresh squeezed orange
2 tbsp canola oil
extra canola oil or butter for cooking-about 1 tsp
optional: powdered sugar, butter, honey for topping

1. Warm the canola oil or butter in a skillet over low-medium heat. For cooking pancakes just right you do not want the skillet to be too hot. It burns the oil/butter and overcooks the outside of the pancakes.
2. Combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over mix the batter.
3. Use about 1/4 cup batter per pancake. Pour into warm skillet. Cook each side until lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes per side.
4. Serve warm with optional butter & honey. Garnish with extra coconut, orange zest and powdered sugar. Go crazy. Just down drown out the subtle orange and coconut flavor with maple syrup!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Barley Cannellini Bean Salad

Dear Readers,

In making today's salad I tried to break out of my quinoa groove. Right? I use a lot of quinoa. This you know! The crunchy texture and nutty flavor of the barley is a nice change. The softness of the Canellini beans make a perfect match with the barley. You may have also noticed that I frequently include sundried tomatoes in my salads. As a seasonal eater, I can indulge my love of fresh tomatoes July-October. Which means, the remaining 4 months of the year sundried tomatoes have to take care of my tomato cravings. I just love their chewy texture and flavor of the red-tinted olive oil they've soaked in. Since today's salad has Italian flavors with oregano and basil, sundried tomatoes were a good fit. Even if they weren't a good fit, I'd still find a way to use them. This salad is substantial as a main dish with it's protein and whole grains. It's vegan and great that way. If you are missing your dairy a nice compliment would be some fresh buffalo mozzarella torn on the top. Serve this salad cold or at room temperature. It was great served with the Root Vegetable and Roasted Winter Squash Soup recipe for a well-rounded dinner. Enjoy! And, as always, please send me some comments and let me know what you think. I love to hear from you and appreciate your support.

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Barley Cannellini Bean Salad
Makes 6 servings

1 cup uncooked dry barley, rinsed
2 cups water
1 cup julienned sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil
15 oz can Cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
sea salt & black pepper to taste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp fresh minced basil leaves
1 tsp fresh minced oregano leaves
1/2 of 14 oz can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cups mixed baby spinach and arugula, torn into small pieces

1. Place the barley and water in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 20 minutes. Do not overcook the barley, you want it to be cooked yet firm and holding it's shape. Drain any excess water. Set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl combine all the remaining ingredients with the exception of the spinach & arugula. Stir well until combined. Add the barley and stir. Add the baby spinach & arugula just prior to serving. Can be served cold or at room temperature.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Root Vegetable & Roasted Winter Squash with Ginger Soup

Dear Readers,

It's a typical Spring day here in Portland. Rain, hail, wind, dark & cloudy, sun breaks, repeat. It's way too muddy to work in your garden. Perfect weather for soup making and baking. I'm using the end of the Winter squash I grew last Summer and have stored through the Winter. Today, I was disappointed to find the pumpkin, blue hubbard, and acorn squashes had mildewed & rotted where I was storing them. I was not being attentive, which is a shame considering I lugged a crate of these homegrown squash with me from apartment to apartment when I moved twice in December. Actually, I remember Catherine carrying my squash crate during both moves. Thanks buddy. The good news is the spaghetti squash and butternut both looked just dandy. Not bad for 6 months of storage. Way to go urban homesteader! So, that's what I used and built this soup recipe around them.

First, roast the squash in the oven until they are soft and browned. Add this cooked squash to sweet potatoes, carrots, rutabaga & parsnip. Fresh minced ginger root and coriander, tarragon & sage round out the flavors. It's important you use a "mild" vegetable broth in this soup. I find the Trader Joe's boxed vegetable broth way too strong and bitter. It overtakes any recipe you use it in. I prefer the Pacific natural foods brand vegetable broth or the "No Chicken" vegetarian broth by Imagine foods brand. Both have a much more delicate flavor that does the job without presenting a dominant flavor. I simmered this soup on the stove, because I was home for the evening. You could easily drop it in the crockpot in the morning and puree it in the evening when you return from work.

Lastly, today I am grateful for rain, as it waters all the delicious plant life in Portland. This is by far the greenest place I have ever lived, and I've lived a lot of places. I don't mind the rain and the hail. It doesn't depress me. Spring is marching on and with it comes all sorts of delicious seasonal treats. I am grateful that it's almost asparagus season. Around April we have a short 1 month window for local Asparagus harvest. I am dreaming up all kinds of new recipes to feature asparagus. I'm thinking cream of asparagus soup, asparagus quiche, asparagus in pasta salad, asparagus risotto. Maybe I'll even pickle & preserve some asparagus this year. I love asparagus! Following asparagus we'll have local harvest of fava beans, snap & snow peas, and shelling peas. I sure love a Spring Panzanella loaded with fresh peas. After that comes June bearing strawberries and the early blueberry varieties. I'm also grateful for my new community garden plot and eager to get my hands in some dirt after a long absence this Winter & early Spring. This new development was a very pleasant surprise I received this week. I thought I would not have a garden this year and I was completely heart broken. My brain is now all a buzz with what I'm going to plant.

So, my friends enjoy slurping your soup and enjoy your life. Stop to appreciate and enjoy all the little things you are grateful for. Give and receive as many hugs as you can today.

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Root Vegetable & Roasted Winter Squash Soup with Ginger
Makes 4 servings

2 winter squash of your choice--I used spaghetti & butternut
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
1 yellow onion-chopped
1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 sweet potato-peeled & diced
1 rutabaga-peeled & diced
4 carrots-diced
1 parsnip-peeled & diced
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried coriander
2 cups vegetable broth (mild flavor, brand such as Imagine or Pacific)
2 cups water
black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Wash the 2 squash. Slice each in half and scoop out & discard the seeds. (or save them to toast up later!). Place the squash face down in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until squash is soft and browned around the edges.
3. While the squash is baking, prep your vegetables by washing, peeling and chopping as designated in the ingredients list.
4. Warm the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions & a pinch of sea salt and saute for about 10 minutes.
5. Add 1/2 tsp of the minced ginger, (reserve the rest for later use), to the onions. Saute for a minute. Add the sweet potato, rutabaga, carrots, and parsnip. Stir. Add the sage, tarragon, coriander and stir. Saute over medium heat for another 5 minutes.
6. Add the vegetable broth and water. Cover the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer over medium heat covered for 1 hour. Stir occasionally to ensure soup is not sticking to the bottom of the pot.
7. Remove pot from heat and let cool down some. Before pureeing soup, add the remaining 1/2 tsp of minced fresh ginger. To puree the soup either use your immersion blender directly in the pot or puree in batches in your food processor. Either way, soup should not be hot when you do so or it will explode everywhere. After pureeing soup add some black pepper and sea salt. Check the flavor and add more sage, tarragon and coriander if desired.

JBR's Banana Pecan Muffins (Gluten-Free)

Dear Readers,

I love pecans. But, first of all if you are allergic to pecans, like my Catherine & Mary are, then substitute some other nuts or omit them entirely in this recipe. Nuts are not crucial in life. And, you don't want to miss out on these muffins according to my friend JBR. We ate these muffins for our morning snack all week at work. She loved them and raved about their taste. I strongly liked them. So, I'm naming them after her. I find the gluten-free flours to have an odmd texture I'm not used to and they seem a little crumbly to me. I don't imagine I'm the only person who's experimented with gluten-free to express these same two concerns. I used the Bob's Red Mill brand Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour. I omitted the Xanthum gum that most gluten-free baking recipes call for because it's like $16 for a small bag and that's totally out of my budget these days! Maybe that's why they were slightly crumbly. Regardless, the flavors were great and I felt good about eating them because they were gluten-free. Enjoy!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

JBR's Gluten-Free Banana Pecan Muffins
Makes 10-12 muffins

1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin pan.
2. In a small bowl combine the canola oil, eggs, vanilla and honey. Beat with whisk until well mixed and fluffy. Add the bananas and stir until combined.
3. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until well mixed.
4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture in your large bowl. Stir until combined. Do not over mix. Add the pecans and stir.
5. I like big muffins so I use about 1/3 cup batter to each muffin tin. (And, really, who doesn't like big muffins??) Fill the muffin pan with all the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool only a little before eating. Optional serve with butter or vegan spread. Extras keep well in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Tomatoes are the Gateway Drug to All Kinds of Gardening"

Good Morning Gardeners!

"Everybody wants to grow tomatoes. Tomatoes are the gateway drug to all of gardening." I wish I could own this quote, but I can't. It's from Mike McGrath, host of the weekly public radio show You Bet Your Garden. I think it's going to be one of my all time favorite quotes.

It came from an interesting article on NPR about late tomato blight . Thank you to Cooking Up a Story for the lead on this article. If you haven't checked out Rebecca's site--it's awesome. It's probably the only blog I follow on a regular basis. She's got great stuff on cooking, gardening, farming, food politics. So, check it out people.

The NPR segment talked about the somewhat common fungal problem, late blight, that nightshade family plants are susceptible to. Nightshade family plants are edibles such as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers. There is early blight and late blight. Last year I had late blight on all of my potatoes and 1 of my tomatoes. The year before all 4 of my tomatoes got late blight. This past year, my friend Crystal, who lives in Vermont, had insane amounts of late blight which wiped out lots of her expansive garden. Apparently there was a massive outbreak of late blight in the Northeast last year due to the sale of infected plants from nurseries and garden centers.

This article from NPR says that winter has most likely killed all of the late blight, so not to worry this year. I don't know if I trust that. Experts say the same thing about aphids. Little buggers! I will remain skeptical and vigilant. I would also like to add that you should never compost infected diseased plant material. Diseased plants should be disposed of in the trash. Also, practicing good crop rotation will help prevent fungal diseases like blight. Rotate crop families on a 4 year cycle. Basically that means don't plant nightshade family plants (tomatoes, potatoes, etc) in the same place for at least 4 years. Practicing good watering habits will also prevent the spread of blight. If you water the soil heavily, say with overhead watering or sprinklers, it will cause splashing on your plants, which will spread blight from the soil to the plant surface. If you are interested in a great book on crop rotation and companion planting then Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham is it! This book is in my top 3 favorite gardening books of all time.

If you would like to learn more about late blight the online guide to plant disease control at Oregon State University is an awesome resource. Please check out the links. You can enter in the name of any plant and be presented with numerous disease possibilities with thorough descriptions and photos. If you live in the Portland area and have a question about plant disease you can bring a sample into Portland Nursery 5050 SE Stark Street or 9000 SE Division 7 days a week. Or email a photo of your diseased plant to

Since, we are talking tomatoes and we've established growing tomatoes is a "gateway drug" it would be a reasonable assumption you are currently either "under the influence" or having cravings to satisfy your need to plant tomatoes. Let me take this opportunity to remind you optimal planting time for tomatoes in Portland is mid-late May. That's right people, please wait until at least May 15th. I know you are eager, I promise it will be ok. Be sure to check out the story I did last year on planting tomatoes. I apologize for the weird layout and formatting of that post. But, it has lots of good information and photos of step-by-step tomato planting.

And, as always, let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann