Friday, August 30, 2013

Summer Vegetable "Ceviche"

I am visual by nature.  If I can visualize it,  I can usually grasp it.  Which is why salad appeals to my food nature with its potentially vivid colors, flavors and textures.  Salad can be bold and really make a statement or it can be bland with little color or vitality.  Taking pride in preparing a salad that invites your eyes and appetite into the journey is a salad worthy of your palate and time.

Look at the bounty of colors, flavors and textures in this summer "ceviche" salad.

Fresh summer bounty of fruits and vegetables marinated in a classic ceviche of lime juice, olive oil and cilantro.

Summer Vegetable "Ceviche"
Serves 8
Recipe from Food and Wine

1 cup fresh baby Lima beans or other shelling bean
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
Sea salt
1-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
2 nectarines, cut into thin wedges
1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large orange bell pepper, finely julienned
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

1.  In a small saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the Lima beans until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain the beans and rinse under cold water.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the olive oil, scallion, jalapeño and shallot; season  the dressing with salt.  Gently fold in the Lima beans, corns, nectarines, avocado, orange pepper and tomatoes.  Refrigerate the "ceviche" for at least 2 hours.  Fold in the cilantro just before serving and serve the "ceviche" chilled.

The salad can refrigerated for up to 8 hours.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Ton Vanvliet

Friday, August 23, 2013

Part II: The Inspiration of an Unintended Beekeeper

Beekeeping is more than just loving honey, it requires that you be prepared to learn new life lessons taught to you by your bees or be reinforced from the perspective of bees.

Bees are one nature's most fascinating insects, they are the only insects to make honey and are depended upon for 80% of the pollination needed for the world's fruits, nuts and vegetables.  You may want to think about that next time you bite into a summer peach, take a handful of nuts and put them in your mouth, or are trying to figure out how to make your grandmother's squash casserole recipe.

About 4 weeks after the hive was set up and the queen introduced to her new workers, it was time to check the health of the hive.  This means it is time to open up the hive and take a close look at the activity inside your bees new home, and with any luck you will see the queen or at least be able to identify that she is indeed working.

The bees here doing something that is called bearding-it means that the bees are hot and they have stepped on the front porch to cool off and have a beer.  A lesson here is you are clearly out numbered and the bees may not take kindly to the hive being disturbed.  Moral of the story? Just like everyday life, timing is critical.

It takes a certain amount of bravery or lack of experience to smoke a hive on a cloudy day.  My son was brave and he had no experience which meant he was willing to take the risk.  

An angry bee stung him in the arm.  His body overreacted to the venom and his arm swelled, it took a week or more to eliminate the swelling.  Lesson may be time to buy a bee suit because it is going to become clear quickly that his body does not respond well to bee stings.

By the way it rained for 34 days here in Tallahassee and there seemed there was no end to our cloudy days, which made for some wild and crazy bees.

The hive is opened and the young bees are doing fine.

Wait, Wait, look the there is the queen! Look closely she has a painted red dot.

Bee fact: The queen lays about 2000 eggs per day and will select the gender of the larvae.  Most will be female. The only males in the hives are the drones which sole purpose is to service the queen.  The drones have no stinger.  Typically in the fall the Drones are led out of the hive by the female worker bees as the drones usefulness to the queen has expired.

Let's admit it takes a leap of faith and courage to hang out with the honey bees.  The life lesson here there is always risk when the return is worthy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Chef Christo Gonzalez

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lemony Frozen-Yogurt Terrine with Blueberries and Mango

This is a genius idea...Why not take homemade frozen yogurt with fresh lemon juice, and layer it in a loaf pan with summer fruits like mangoes and blueberries....then take it to another level and add a handful of pistachios.

What you have is a creative and beautifully presented dessert that is light, healthy and fabulous.

Lemony Frozen-Yogurt Terrine with Blueberries and Mango
Serves 8
Recipe from Food and Wine

1 quart plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 cup turbinado sugar, preferably light golden
1-1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 mangoes-peeled, cut off the pit and coarsely chopped (3 cups)
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 pint blueberries (1 cup)
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios

1.  Line an 8-by 4 inch metal or glass loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a few inches of over hang all around.  In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and whisk until smooth.  Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions; the yogurt should be frozen but still spreadable.

2.  Meanwhile,in a food processor, combine the mangoes, honey and cream and puree until smooth.  Transfer half of the mango puree to a bowl and refrigerate.

3.  Working quickly, spread one-third of the frozen yogurt in the prepared loaf pan in 1/2-inch layer.  gently spread half of the unrefrigerated mango puree on top and scatter with some of the blueberries and pistachios; gently push them into the puree.  Repeat with another third of frozen yogurt and the remaining mango puree, blueberries and pistachios.  Spread the remaining frozen yogurt on top.  Cover and freeze the terrine until firm, at least 8 hours or up to 5 days.

4.  Carefully unmold the terrine onto a platter; peel off the plastic wrap.  Cut the terrine into 1/2-inch-thick slices, rinsing the knife under hot water and drying it between cuts.  Serve with the chilled mango puree.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Andi at Green Basket

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Part I: The Inspiration of an Unintended Beekeeper

Life surprises me in ways that are not earth shattering or life changing but are in response to unique extraordinary events that are outside of my ordinary experiences.  These moments often provide me with clarity in this journey we call life.  The inspiration from our son the beekeeper was one of those experiences.

If you told me that my young adult son would be inspired by his uncle who raises bees as a hobby and he would spend almost a year learning everything he could about bees...and that inspiration would lead to a real live bee hive, I would have squinted my eyes, twisted the corners of my mouth, shook my head in both directions and said "Probably not"...Well, what do I know, and this is proof that obviously, I don't know much.

His passage into the foray of beekeeping was inspiring.  The inspiration that I was experiencing was the joy of sharing these moments with my son.  Each time I recognized more sharply that our son was  defining his own journey.  His interests are clearly expressed in his own style, and they are 100% owned by him.  This is the part where parents bump their fists, smile and make note that we are officially spectators now, and the journey belongs to him.

 The arrival of his Italian Honey Bees

Checking on his queen who will be introduced into the hive in her marshmallow cage (yes, you read that right...her marshmallow cage)

His focus was razor sharp and his calmness with handling the bees was impressive

His younger brother who was in the background whispered "My brother the Bee whisperer"

The release of the bees were a success. 

The journey begins here. Beekeeping is well into its third month. The bees are active and healthy.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Karen Munoz

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Learning to Preserve: Jamaican Pickled Pepper Sauce

My friend brought me a jar of her homemade Jamaican pickled pepper sauce.   The timing was perfect.

I was attempting for what seemed to be the hundredth time trying to learn how to prepare winter collard greens.  My last attempt included adding a bit of this pepper sauce to the pot of greens that were simmering on the stove....And that was beginning of my journey to a decent pot of collards.

I had an abundance of hot peppers this summer from the garden and there was no doubt that I was going to attempt to replicate this hot vinegar sauce.  There is probably a thousand varieties of how this pepper sauce might be prepared based on what vegetables and peppers may be available. This is only one version, and I encourage you to experiment.

There is going to be plenty of opportunities to add this packed flavored vinegar to add subtle heat and flavor. There is a good reason why this is a staple pepper sauce in a Caribbean kitchen-It is because it is so damn good.

A blend of peppers that included jalapeño,  habaneros and a Mexican hot red peppers. Sliced carrot, onion, garlic cloves and fresh thyme sprigs.

A fiery blend of ingredients when brought together gives a kick to everything from grilled meats, legumes, soups, stews, chills and sauces.

Jamaican Pickled Pepper Sauce
Makes approximately 3 quarts
Recipe from Frederica Schmidt


3 quarts distilled white vinegar

20-25 hot peppers, any variety, (jalapeño, scotch bonnets, cayenne, habaneros)
*note- be extra careful when working with hot peppers.  Wear gloves or plastic bags over your hands, and don't touch your eyes!

2-3 mild peppers, any variety, chopped (bell peppers, banana)
2 carrots, cleaned peeled and sliced into rounds
6 fresh cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly smashed to release the flavors 
2 white onions, sliced thinly in halves
Several fresh sprigs of thyme

Clean, sterilized mason jars

1.  Heat vinegar in a saucepan to a simmering boil.

2.  Pack a blend of the peppers, carrots, onion, garlic and thyme into clean sterilized jars.

3.  Pour the hot vinegar over the mixture to about 1/2-inch head space, and seal jars.

4. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove.  Cool and store in your refrigerator for up to 2 months.