Saturday, July 10, 2010

Quinoa with Spinach, Mint and Feta

Lately I have been using a lot of quinoa in my cooking, mostly as cold or room temperature "salads". Quinoa is not local, but of all the grains it is the highest in protein, so if you are cutting back on your animal proteins, quinoa is a good grain choice. Also, it is gluten free. I am including this recipe in here because most of the ingredients I added to the quinoa are local, like this Narragansett Creamery Feta -- it is pricier than the store bought brand that you can get in a plastic tub at the market -- but it is much better in my opinion.

This spinach is from the farmer's market:

And I added mint and green onions from my own garden, garlic that a friend gave me from Casey Farms.

I love my pretty green Fire King mixing bowls:

Here is the recipe:

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
2 Tbsp. olive oil + 2 Tbsp for later
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped green onions or chives
4 cups torn spinach or whole baby spinach
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped feta
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives

Rinse the quinoa real well in a fine mesh strainer. Quinoa has a natural insect repellent, saponin, which is very bitter, but that washes off.
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in skillet or dutch oven, add the garlic and saute about 1 minute. Add the quinoa & mix with garlic, cook 1 minute more. Add the water, cover the pan and turn off the burner, let sit for 10 minutes (you will be using passive heating, another way to save electricity and $$).
While the quinoa is cooking, crumble the feta, chop the mint, green onions and olives, and squeeze the lemon.
After 10 minutes, add the chopped or whole spinach, to the quinoa, cover again and leave for about 3 minutes. Remove from stove and dump into a large mixing bowl, blend to mix quinoa and spinach. Add the green onions and the other 2 Tbsp olive oil and squeezed lemon. At this point, I put it into the refrigerator to cool off. If I am taking this dish somewhere, I carry the olives, feta and mint seperately, these I add just before serving. If it is a little dry, add a bit more olive oil and blend.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Homemade Granola with Local Oats, Honey & Butter

I bought this package of Maine grown oats at the Farmers Market recently. It was only $7 for a 3 pound bag. I should be able to make 3 batches of granola from this one bag, so I consider this a bargain, especially since they are organically grown. I got this recipe from my sister-in-law Terry. She had put some of this granola in our Christmas bag (see a previous post).

Start with 4 cups of the oats, spread out on a cookie sheet and put in a 350 to 375 degree oven. Keep an eye on it, toss occasionally. I probably had this in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Further down will be a shot of the oats after baking.

Toast seperately chopped pecan, walnuts & almonds, or a combination. I used pecans & almonds. Nuts should also be toasted at 35o, for about 6 to 7 minutes, but you've got to watch them also.

I always like a little bit of fruit in my granola, this time I added dried cranberries. Other good options are any other dried fruit (apricots are my favorite). I also toasted some coconut to add. Terry likes to put in dried blueberries.

After the oats are baked, put them in a large bowl, add the nuts & fruits that you are using. Take 2 Tbsp unsalted butter and put it in a glass container with at least 1/4 cup honey. Put in microwave for about a minute, until the butter melts. When I want to splurge I use the butter shown above, but if I don't use that I opt for the Cabot brand because it comes from Vermont (much closer than the butters made in Wisconsin).

This is the honey that I had available, I usually have honey from a man that lives 1 mile from my house, but he sold out at the end of November so I picked this up last week.

This is the approximate color that the oats should be when you pull them out of the oven. Mix up the large bowl of fruit, nuts and granola before adding the honey and butter. You can also add cinnamon if you'd like that flavor in the granola. Add the honey and granola and mix thoroughly.
Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and set aside to dry for 2 hours. Break up with a spoon and put into sealed containers.

Here's some of mine all done & in a jar. This is only half of what I made. It is real easy to make and so much better tasting than what I used to get at the grocery store. I usually have it with some Almond Milk or yogurt.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Christmas Gifts of Food plus Healthy Yummy Treats

For Christmas this year our family gifts were very low key, for economic and sustainability reasons. Each of these gifts were either hand made or something I can surely use (such as the tea).

These jams and canned fruits were made by my son Jeremy & his wife Kristen. Each year they can fruits from their yard, or in some instances, from berries that they hand pick at PYO farms around the state. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Jeremy this year to help him put up the "dropped pears". All of these will either be used on waffles or toast -- a little bit of summer in a jar.

This awesome granola and almond butter were made by my sister in law Terry. She is a fabulous cook. The granola did not stand a chance -- it was GONE by New Year's Day. She got the Maine-grown rolled oats for this from the farmer's market. For the Almond Butter she uses local honey. Granola is my next cooking adventure.
The 2 tins of tea were from my sister Alica, they are 2 of my favorite flavors: Decaf Apricot and Orange Ginger Mint.

This selection of yummy goodness was a gift from my son & his partner Persephone she has a great holistic eating blog. She too is a wonderful cook (we are so blessed in this family). Limoncello, a fabulous cookie mix that was a recipe she used to cook when she baked for Juice & Java on Block Island, some honey from that island and some more delicious tea, Jasmine Rooibos in this group is another favorite of mine.

Karen, who I have been friends with for many years (going back to 1st grade!) gave me this little book. Karen and I like nothing better than to get together for a good meal and great conversation. Unfortunately for me she now lives in Tampa so we only see each other about twice a year.

I got both of these recipes from Persephone. There is no sugar, wheat or dairy in either of these recipes, but they are easy to make and delicioso!

I used my pizza stone to cook them on, no it's no dirty -- it's "seasoned". And the cookies did not taste like pizza at all.

All packed up and ready to go to our Christmas gathering.

Putting the finishing touch on.

Swirl around in the bowl to coat with cocoa powder.

2 cups raw almonds
2 cups regular rolled oats (I used the Maine grown ones from the Farmer's Market)
2 cups spelt flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup local honey or agave nectar
1 cup canola oil
1 cup juice or honey sweetened preserves (I used blueberry jam that I made last year)

Place almonds in a food processor & grind to a fine meal, about one minute. Remove & set aside.
Place the oats in the food processor & grind them to a fine meal.
Return the almonds to the food processor along with the flour, cinnamon, agave nectar & canola oil. Pulse to combine all the ingredients.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or use baking stoneware.
Roll the dough into walnut-size balls and place on the prepared baking sheets or stoneware. Using your thumb, press an indentation into the center of each ball.
Fill the indentations with your choice of preserves.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.
These need to be handled gently when transporting since they don't have eggs to hold them together completely.
Notes: you can use any type of preserves for this cookie, preferably honey or juice sweetened to keep them healthy.
Also, instead of raw almonds you can use almond meal or almond flour, I saw some at whole foods in the baking aisle.

1 cup raw almond butter (no salt added)
1 cup pitted dates (soaked for 3-4 hours)
1/3 cup cacao or cocoa powder (not hot chocolate mix)
1 Tbsp local honey (or you can use maple syrup or agave nectar)

Add ins: 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp soy sauce (adds depth to flavor), 1 Tbsp coconut oil
(if you add any or all 3 of these, increase the cocoa powder by a Tbsp per liquid addition)

Blend soaked dates in food processor until reasonably smooth.
Add almond butter & blend again. You may have to scrape down the sides in between rounds.
If using any of the add ins, put them in before the cacao for best blending.
Add cacao and mix in with a spoon just to cover the powder so it doesn't explode all over when you turn on the food processor.
Refrigerate for an hour.
Put a little butter or coconut oil on your hands before rolling the balls. Roll small balls and swirl them in a bowl with the cocoa powder till coated. Lay on wax paper in fridge for few hours till chilled. They will firm up. Keep refrigerated or cool.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

NEW YEARS EVE DINNER: Pasta with Butternut Sauce & Agvolemono Soup

We usually don't go out on New Year's Eve, but we do usually make a "fancy" meal for the two of us. This year it was roasted cod, pumpkin ravioli with Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce and Greek Egg Lemon Soup (Avgolemono).

The soup is a recipe that I found in a vegetarian cookbook, I can't remember the name of it. I used to go to a restaurant on the East Side, Andrea's and my favorite meal there was always a piece of their spanokopita and a bowl of this soup.
I will put the recipe at the end of this entry to make it easier to copy & paste.
First dice up the leeks, carrots, & celery. I think I also added onion because I had it.

Heat olive oil & add the veggies. When veggies are softened, add the broth, but keep back about 1/2 cup. The recipe calls for No Chicken Chicken broth, but I only had veggie and it came out fine.

Look at those beautiful orangy yolks! The eggs are from Zephyr Farms, as well as the carrots and onions. The leeks and the celery are from Morris Farms, I got them just before Christmas.

The eggs get whisked with lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the broth.

When the soup is done cooking, the eggs, lemon & broth get added back in to heat, but not to a boil. I like the smooth velvety texture of this soup.

I knew that I wanted to make a pasta sauce with a half a squash I had left from something else, so searched a couple of recipe sites, and found this on the Vegetarian Times website. There is a link
. To make it as local as I could, I omitted the red pepper and added shredded carrots and I also used local onions and garlic. This makes a lot of sauce. I had enough to freeze some for another day.

This sauce was very quick and easy to make. If you start with cut & peeled squash it makes in even less time. Today I saw cut & peeled squash at the Barden Farms table of the farmer's market.

Besides the fish, this was our big "splurge" of the night. Pumpkin ravioli made right on "The Hill".

The pesto that I used was from Besto Pesto, which is locally made and owned by Michelle of Zephyr Farms. I use this pesto in many, many dishes.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 med. leeks, 1 small onion, 2 celery spears & 2 carrots, all finely chopped
1/2 cup orzo
2 large eggs
6 cups No Chicken Chicken broth (or veggie)
3 Tbsp lemon juice (I use a little bit more because I like the lemon)
Fresh parsley for garnish, if you have it

Heat oil in large saucepan over med. heat. Add leeks, onion, carrot & celery with a pinch of salt. Cover & cook 5 to 7 minutes or till the veggies are soft, stir often.
Stir in the broth, holding back about a 1/2 cup for later. Season with pepper. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes.
Add orzo and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk together the eggs & lemon juice. Add the reserved veggie broth to this after you have warmed it. Whisk continually till blended and add back to the soup. Cook over low heat, 2 to 3 minutes or until soup is thickened, but without letting it come to a boil. Serve sprinkled with parsley.
If you have leftover, do not let boil upon reheating.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Today I visited the winter farmer's market in Pawtucket for the first time this year. My usual market in Pawtuxet is open until the Saturday before Thanksgiving, so I patronize them as long as they are willing to stand out there in the cold, plus it is 2-1/2 miles from my house. The 2 Saturdays since Thanksgiving, I have been leading an ethical eating workshop at Westminster, so I have visited the winter market in North Kingston on those days.

Here is a visual representation of all that was available at the Pawtucket market today. With this much abundance you could make all of your meals this week with the offerings that were there.

There were 2 apple vendors, Barden Family Orchard and Hill Farm Orchard. They each had a huge assortment of different varieties of apples from their farms and apple cider. We only bought the cider because I still have apples from last weeks market visit. The cider is for Dan to drink and I will use about a 1/2 cup in the Butternut Squash soup I plan on making in the next few days.

Ooooh! Cabbage and Beets and Bok Choy! Oh my!

Corn Tortillas made right in Federal Hill. This package of 30 tortillas was about $4 and will last me quite some time. I plan on making enchiladas and quesadillas with them.

The rolled oats were grown in Maine. We have bought these in the past, Dan liked them. I am not a big fan of oatmeal so I cannot give you a first hand review of them. There is also maple syrup available to garnish the oatmeal, and there is local milk available at the market too. IF I ate oatmeal, I'd add some of the above mentioned apples to the oatmeal, after I had sauteed them in a little bit of butter & dusted them with cinnamon.

These are "Watermelon Radishes", so-called because of their coloration. I sampled some and they were pretty good, just a little bit sharp, but not overwhelmingly so as some radishes are prone to be. I love their appearance. I forgot to buy some, I hope them have them in 2 weeks when I go to the market again.

These lovely carrots were at the same table as the Watermelon Radishes. They look marvelous in this basket. The name of this farm is on they sign below. I think it is a very cute sign. I bought a bunch of these carrots to use in several dishes in the upcoming week: I take them to school for my midday snack, I use them in soups, I grate them on top of salads and I will also grate them to use in my Veggie Lasagna that I am making for Christmas.

Here is the afore-mentioned very cute sign.

Another farmer's table with a good assortment of root vegetables, kale, bok choy and garlic.

This very interesting looking vegetable is one of my favorites to photograph, it looks like an alien being, or something that Madonna wore on her Material Girl concert tour. It is called Romensco. I have used this before, I sauteed it with olive oil & garlic and added it to pasta.

Wishing Stone Farms from Little Compton always has a large assortment. They had several varieties of potatoes, lots of onions, carrots, parsnips, kale, spinach, cauliflower.

Another section of Wishing Stone farms offerings.

CHEEEEEEESE! I think this is Farmstand's table. Narragansett Creamery was also there. We purchased Atwell's Gold from Narragansett Creamery and their awesome Ricotta that I will be using in my Christmas Lasagna.

Rhode Island grown Boston lettuce, grown hydroponically. I love the texture of Boston lettuce. It is sold with the roots on it, so if you keep the roots moist and put in a plastic bag, it will last longer. I use green produce bags, I get them at Whole Foods Market. They are treated a special way and they extend the life of the produce. I swear by them.

I think this is Shartner Farms table. The potatoes look pretty neat in these burlap backgrounds. They also had cherry tomatoes grown in their greenhouse.

Purple & orange cauliflower, along with the Romanesco and plain old white cauliflower. I got the plain old and I like to roast it with some other veggies or boil it and mash it with cream cheese & parmesan to make fake mashed potatoes.

Another table from Wishing Stone Farms, featuring leeks and cabbages.

Here is a recipe that I made tonight, using some buttercup squash I had from Morris Farms. The other local ingredients are an apple, onions, garlic and Narragansett Creamery's Salty Sea Feta. You can make this vegan by not adding the cheese. Also, I have made this with Butternut Squash or Acorn Squash. If you do not have quinoa, you can use brown rice. I got this from Persephone's blog, she is my grandson's mamma and she is a Holistic Health Counselor. I think you can find some other great recipes on her blog, it is titled "Clean Up Clear Out" there is a link to it from this blog.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut a buttercup squash in half across the width. If using butternut, cut in half from top to bottom. For acorn, cut across the width as shown here for the buttercup.
Scoop out the seeds & the stringy part of the squash. Set aside to put into compost.
Put the squash on a baking pan & cook for 35 to 40 minutes, testing with a fork for doneness.

While the squash is roasting, dice up 1 large onion, 2 to 4 garlic cloves based on your preference for garlic flavor, and 1 apple. I think this apple is a Jonah Gold from Barden Farms.

Make the quinoa according to the package directions. I make enough to have leftovers. I use the leftovers in salads, or I eat in the morning like oatmeal with maple syrup & cinnamon. You will only need about half of what they call for on the package directions.
In a saute pan put 1 Tbsp. of olive oil on med heat. Add the onions and the garlic and saute till translucent. Add the diced apple, some frozen organic spinach, or some fresh baby spinach leaves, cook on med-low for about 10 minutes.

After the quinoa is done, add to the onion and apple mix. Add some spices: 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, a dash of chili powder of cayenne. If the mixture is too dry, I add a 1/4 cup of apple cider. Add 1/4 cup of dried cranberries or raisins and a handful of chopped toasted pecans or almonds. Salt & pepper to taste.
When the squash is ready, scoop out about half of it and add to the quinoa/apple mixture.

Take the quinoa/squash mixture & stuff it on top of the remaining squash parcel, top with some feta or other sharp cheese you may have and cook under the broiler in the oven for 5 minutes.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Yesterday Dan & I took the afternoon off, he from work and me from my grandbaby waiting game. We were not able to go away for an anniversary trip this year, so in the last couple of weeks we have taken road trips in order to spend time together.
Yesterday we first hiked Trustom Pond, which will soon be on my hiking blog. After the hike we visited Matunuck Oyster Bar.

This restaurant just opened this summer near Matunuck State Beach. We were already familiar with the owner, Perry Raso, because we have been buying shellfish from him at various farmer's markets in Rhode Island for at least 2 years. Perry has an oyster farm in Ninigret Pond. The restaurant is right on this pond, and there are gorgeous views from the tables.

The reason that I am writing about this restaurant here is that besides their own oysters, they also have about 6 other types of oysters from other waters in Rhode Island, including my favorite, Rome Point. They also use local produce and cheese.

I recently found out from a friend that this restaurant serves Ninigret Pond oysters on the half shell on Monday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for $1.00 each. The oysters from other locations are the usual price of $1.75, so Dan & I ordered a dozen of the ones on special.

As you can see, we ate them so quick that I did not get a photo until after we had inhaled them all.

After the dozen oysters, we shared an appetizer special, grilled scallops with tempura broccoli (yum) and a salad of arugula, white beans & pickled red onions with shaved Atwell's Gold Cheese from
Narragansett Creamery, made in Rhode Island. Dan also ordered a stuffie for himself, local clams were used and a side order of french fries, because they were local.

There is a wonderful, and huge outdoor dining area set up, as well as a fire pit. Unfortunately we did not sit outside because it was quite windy and a little chilly last night around dinner time.

I did not think that I had any room left, but there was blueberry cheesecake on the desert menu, made with Narragansett Creamery's Ricotta, which is the BEST ricotta I have ever tasted. I was in heaven eating that cheesecake, even if I did have to share it.

This young man was shucking oysters as customers ordered them. Last night the place was quite busy, and there were several people sitting at the bar, and 2 men standing at the end, ordering the different types of oysters and enjoying some drafts.

I had deliberated ordering the lobster roll which I thought was a great price at $15.95, so when I saw a nearby table being delivered 2 of them, I was quite jealous because there was a huge amount of lobster in the rolls. I'll be having one of those on my next visit. There is many other items on the menu, not just oysters, so check the link above, and plan on going there soon. I don't think they have a heating system installed yet, so you might want to call ahead of time. I only wish they were not so far away, this is a great restaurant, and because they use local food, I would make it one of my regulars.

This guy was also enjoying the local foods right out our window.