Monday, November 8, 2010

A slew of slaw

Not sure how many makes a slew. Probably more than the three I have posted so far. (see Waldorf slaw and Halloween slaw) Regardless, I made something yummy with the rest of the bag of shredded cabbage I used for the Halloween slaw, so I figured I would share it.

Asian slaw
1 bag shredded cabbage
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1/3 c slivered almonds (or chopped nut of choice)
1/4 c tahini
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 tb sesame oil
1 tb fresh snipped chives
fresh ground pepper
Combine cabbage, apple and nuts in a large serving bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together liquid ingredients (sauce will be thick). Pour over dry ingredients and mix through. Add ground pepper to taste. Top with chives. Best served chilled (my opinion).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Halloween slaw

This is a great colorful side dish any time of year, but the purple and orange look - plus the fact that I served it on mischief night - made me name it for the holiday.

Halloween slaw
1 bag shredded purple cabbage
1 large carrot
2 tb lime juice
2 tb grapeseed oil
2-3 sprigs fresh mint
Fresh ground pepper
Empty cabbage into large bowl. Shred carrot on top. Strip mint leaves, tear any large ones and add to vegetables in bowl. In a separate dish, whisk together liquids and pepper. Pour over vegetables and toss to combine.
If you need more liquid, I recommend adding lime juice first and then if it is still too dry, a little more oil. Grapeseed oil definitely works best with this due to its thinner consistency and very light flavor. You could substitute olive oil, but I would use a little more lime juice to balance it out.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ointment assortment

Growing my own herbs gives me a great opportunity to find ways to utilize them for medicinal purposes. One of the easiest ways to do so is to make ointments or salves.

The basic recipe is to take 2 cups of herb-infused oil and melt 1/4 cup of beeswax into it, then pour into labelled storage containers. Infused oil can either be made in advance and stored, or made at the same time as your ointment. Here are the specifics of how I make two of my favorites.

Nettle ointment - for treating itchy skin, dry rashes and bites (shown finished, front, in picture above)
2 c dried nettle leaf
3 c olive oil
1/4 c beeswax pastilles
Set up two pots as a double boiler (or use a double boiler, if you have one, which I don't) and bring water to boil. Add nettle to top pot and cover with oil, ensuring leaves are completely covered and soaked. Simmer leaves in oil for 30 minutes. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and pour the hot oil and leaves into it. Wrap herb in cheesecloth and press to remove every bit of oil you can. This should make 2 cups.
Wipe out any remaining leaves from the pot, return the oil to it and replace in double boiler. Add beeswax, stirring constantly until melted. When wax is melted, drip a bit off a spoon onto a plate and put it in the freezer for 2 minutes. If it comes out the consistency you want, your're done. If it is still too runny, add a bit more beeswax and repeat until you are satisfied.
Pour into glass or metal containers with lids (I use sterilized baby food jars). Be sure containers are labelled with product and date.
Supposedly this is helpful for arthritis in the fingers as well. I don't have arthritis, so I haven't tried it.

Calendula ointment - for treating scrapes, minor cuts, diaper rash, and dry skin
I make my oil in advance, and keep it on hand for other uses. Because calendula is antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral, you can use the oil straight for many types of skin infections and issues.

To make the oil: Ensure calendula flowers are completely dried. Place in a clean and dry glass jar and pour in enough olive oil to completely cover. The jar needs to be covered, but release of gasses in a tightly sealed glass container filled with oil can result in a God-awful mess. I cover the jar with an unbleached coffee filter and secure it with a large rubber band (I save the ones that come holding asparagus together.). Swirl the mixture a couple of times during the three weeks you will leave it in a sunny window. If so much olive oil is absorbed that the flowers stick out of the top, add more. Strain and press through cheesecloth and return the oil to the jar you used to infuse it in, this time putting a lid on it.
When I harvest my calendula next year and go to make another batch of oil, I will use any that is left from this year's batch.

To make the ointment: Warm the infused oil in a pot on the stove. Add 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles per 2 cups oil, stirring constantly. When wax is melted, drip a bit off a spoon onto a plate and put it in the freezer for 2 minutes. If it comes out the consistency you want, your're done. If it is still too runny, add a bit more beeswax and repeat until you are satisfied. Pour warm mixture into glass or metal containers with lids (I use sterilized baby food jars). Be sure containers are labelled with product and date. They will keep for a year away from heat and direct sunlight.

Variation: For treating nail fungus
Immediately after pouring the warm mixture into the storage jars, stir in a scant 3/4 tsp tea tree oil.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I am a genius! I have just discovered the BEST way to preserve my extra tomatoes: canning Bloody Mary mix!

Well, I discovered it in the same way Columbus discovered America, which is to say it's a pretty sure bet someone else has been down this road before. But, hey - we got a day off of work last week to celebrate what Columbus did. I am just offering up a way to help the celebration along.

This recipe makes ONE quart jar. You will want to multiply based on the volume of tomatoes you have - and your future needs for instant Bloody Marys.

Bloody Mary mix
3 pounds tomatoes
1/2 c grated horseradish (storebought is fine)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
2 tb lemon juice
1 tsp salt

1. Quarter tomatoes and put through a food mill. (I use the attachment for my stand mixer.) Processing the tomatoes without heat works for this recipe because it will cause the result to be watery rather than thick like tomato sauce.
2. In a large saucepan, stir in the horseradish, mustard and pepper, and bring the puree to a low boil.
3. Meanwhile, canner, jars and lids should be sterilized. The canning water should be boiling, with the jars inside.
4. Remove jars from boiling water. Add lemon juice and salt to each jar, then fill with Bloody Mary mix leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rim and top with lid. Turn rings to fingertip tight.
5. Place jars in canner and process at a full boil for 40 minutes, then remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes and remove jars. Enjoy listening to the thwonk sound each lid makes as it seals, letting you know that you did it correctly. Let jars cool for 24 hours before moving.
6. Before getting ready to use, you will notice the water rose to the top and the heavy stuff sunk to the bottom. Its ok to have even up to an inch of tomato water at the top of the jar. Shake before opening, pour into a pitcher, add an equal amount of vodka and mix well. (This makes a fairly strong Bloody Mary, half the amount of vodka makes a very weak one. You might want to be somewhere in between.)
7. This is the best part...pour into glasses filled with ice, garnish with a lime wedge (or celery stalk) and ENJOY!

Friday, October 15, 2010


Except for asparagus, I feel like cooked vegs really need something done to them...just steaming really isn't enough. This combo dresses up broccoli, and puts this year's garden bonanza of shallots to good use.

Roasted broccoli
1 head broccoli
3 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
grapeseed oil (or olive)
1/4 c sliced almonds (or walnut pieces)
Pepper to taste
Trim broccoli and place in shallow baking dish. Top with shallots, drizzle with oil and use your hands to toss.
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Top with nuts and bake 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with pepper.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Phillies are in the is in the house!
Guests always show up with chips and queso, but I like to whip up something primal friendly as well. And guess what? Company loves it too.
Here are this year's phavorites:

Pesto cream cheese layers
I make my own pesto (recipe at the bottom of this post), but you could substitute store bought in this super simple (meaning great at the last minute) creation.
1 block cream cheese
1/2 c pesto
1 roma tomato
Slice cream cheese in half horizontally. Put most of the pesto between the two layers. Put remaining pesto on top. Dice tomato and sprinkle over as well. (The tomato was a new addition to this spread -- just trying to get in a little Phillies red!)

Pesto cream cheese layers with onion garlic flax crackers (top left), Brad's Raw kale chips (bottom left) and carrot chips.
Macadamia onion dip
Yeah, it does sound wierd, but trust me it's good.
2 c macadamias (I prefer lightly salted)
3/4 c water
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 handful crumbled bacon
In food processor, grind nuts with 1/4 c water. Stop to redistribute, scrape down sides and add 1/4 c water. If it is still too spackly after processing a second time, repeat, adding remaining water. When spread is desired consistency, fold in onion and bacon to taste.
Thanks to the folks at Harvest Market for their inspiration on this one!

I usually serve my dips with carrot chips, but recently I have discovered two raw food crackers that are good for munching too. My favorite is Foods Alive onion garlic flax crackers. For soft spreads, Brad's Raw Chips (I use Kale, but there are several varieties) are good too. Both are pictured with the Pesto cream cheese layers.

Basil walnut pesto
4 c fresh basil, lightly packed
3 tb minced garlic
1 c crushed walnuts
1/3 c grated parmesan or romano
1 c olive or walnut oil
Put basil in blender, top with next three ingredients and half of oil, and puree, stopping frequently to scrape down sides. Add remaining oil gradually as needed to achieve desired consistency.
I keep my pesto fairly dry because this is how I preserve the excess that comes out of my garden every year. After blending, scoop half cup portions into a muffin pan, cover with Press-N-Seal and freeze. Reheat in saucepan or microwave, adding a little oil to thin out.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My new favorite dinner

Seriously. Good.

Dry rubbed, slow roasted, baby back ribs
Dry rub (inspired by a variation of a variation of an Alice Waters recipe)
1 tsp coarse ground pepper
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp fennel seed
2 tsp rubbed sage
2 tsp cumin
To prepare: Mix rub ingredients together and pat into all surfaces (especially meaty side) of 2.5ish pound rack of ribs. Let sit covered in refrigerator for several hours. Set on counter 1 hour before cooking to come to room temp. Drizzle with oil (I like olive or walnut).
To make: Turn grill on to the lowest setting possible. Grill over indirect heat, meat side down, for 30 minutes. Flip rack every half hour for 3 hours. Add a little more oil if absolutely necessary.

Did I mention there was slaw too? Especially awesome when apples are in season.

Waldorf slaw
1 bag shredded red cabbage
1/2 red onion, diced
1 apple, diced (something crisp and sweet!)
1 c sour cream (or greek yogurt)
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c crushed walnuts
1 tb fresh parsley, chopped
fresh ground pepper to taste
Put cabbage, onion and apple in a large bowl. Whisk together sour cream and vinegar and add to bowl. Stir until solid ingredients are coated with dressing. Add walnuts and pepper and mix through. Top with parsley.

What I want for dinner every night...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fabulous fish

We eat fish at least 2-3 times per week. Whether fresh from the store (meaning I forgot to defrost something for dinner) or taken from the freezer stash, we have plenty to choose from.
Something else in abundance and variety at my house are fresh herbs. I am always looking for more ways to get them into our meals - for seasoning (we try to maintain a low sodium intake), for nutrition (Did you know a teaspoon of thyme contains 10% of the daily value for iron?) and for health (Basil is used to treat irritability, fatigue, depression and anxiety!)
Here are two ways I have come up with to make bland fish great with fresh herbs and a few other seasonings on hand.

Ginger-mint baked fish
I usually use Rockfish for this. It will also work well with Red Snapper.
1+ lbs/2 whole fillets thin white fish
olive oil
1 tb chopped chives
pinch red pepper flakes
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp orange zest
3-4 stems fresh mint
1 inch piece chopped fresh ginger
In a glass baking dish, drizzle fillets with oil and rub to coat both sides to prevent sticking. Sprinkle fish with chives, garlic, red pepper and orange zest. Strip leaves from mint stems and chop coarsely if large; sprinkle over fish. Top with ginger and bake at 375 until fish is flaky but still moist (about 20 min).

The fish will absorb the flavors of the herb and spice toppings while cooking, so if it's too much of a mouthful you can scrape some of it off before eating.

Coconut-crusted fish
Again, I usually use this with Rockfish.
1/3 c flaked coconut (unsweetened)
2 tb almond meal
2 tb parmesan cheese
2 tb fresh parsley
grapeseed oil (or olive if you prefer...grapeseed is lighter and doesn't interfere with the coconut)
ground pepper to taste
Put coconut, almond meal, parmesan and parsley in a chopper or food processer for a few pulses to combine and grind smaller. Put fish in a glass baking dish and coat lightly with oil. Top with mixture from chopper - you will have plenty to coat two fillets substantially. Top with ground pepper and bake at 375 until top begins to brown and fish is flaky.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


You know that scene in Forrest Gump where Bubba lists every way to cook shrimp he can think of? The way my tomatoes are coming in, I think I might have to open up the BubbaGump Tomato Company. There's stuffed tomatoes, tomato fruit salsa, baked tomato casserole... You get the picture, now get the recipes.
I pick my tomatoes every 2-3 days and this is a typical harvest. The top two baskets are giant Chadwick Cherry tomatoes. From left across the bottom: Green Giant, Amish Paste and Margherita (in basket), Chancha red slicing, Sunsugar mini orange.
Fruit salsa
I make this as a summer topping for baked or grilled fish. We usually make it with a lighter white fish, such as rockfish, tilapia or sole, but you can put it on cod or halibut as well. The tomatoes I use are the little orange guys pictured at the bottom right in the picture above.
4-6 strawberries
1 kiwi
10-12 tiny tomatoes
1/4 red onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tb balsamic vinegar
fresh cilantro
Chop fruit, quarter tomatoes and dice onion. Stir together with garlic and balsamic. Top with chopped cilantro. Let marinate 30-60 minutes before serving. This makes enough for 2 large (like rockfish) or 4 small (like tilapia) filets.
Don't keep any leftover salsa, this doesn't save well.

Baked tomato casserole
This isn't much of a "casserole" per se, but it is a great quick way to use some tomatoes!
1 large green or yellow tomato (I use the Green Giants, bottom left in the picture above)
2 romas (in the plastic basket at the center of the picture above) or 1 red slicing tomato
2 tb almond meal
1/4 c shredded parmesan
fresh ground pepper
olive oil
In an 8x8 dish, put a little olive oil to cover. Layer 3-4 slices of green tomato and top with ground pepper. Layer red tomatoes, followed by remaining green tomatoes and more ground pepper.
In a small dish, combine almond meal and parmesan. Top tomatoes and bake @ 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
This makes 2 servings.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tailgate time

Football season started - for me anyway - this weekend with the first Eagles tailgate of the year.
What's a primal girl to do without chips, subs or cookies?
Eat MEAT! Mmm...burgers, chicken apple sausage (from Trader Joe's), and grilled shrimp. Veggies and dip round it out -- and keep me from chewing my arm off waiting for the grill to heat up!

OK, I know everyone knows how to make a basic burger, but my husband is truly the master. Here's how he does it:
85/15 organic ground beef (or venison)
Cayenne, garlic powder and minced onion to taste
Mix (by hand) and make into four patties per pound of beef. Poke a little hole in the center of each with your finger to help them cook all the way through.
Top with mustard, avocado and cheddar.
Veggies & dip, burgers & toppings ... Go Eagles!
Whisk 2 parts olive oil and 1 part lemon juice
Add generous amounts of minced garlic, cumin, ground pepper and chopped cilantro
Marinate shrimp for several hours and then throw on the grill for a few minutes until just cooked

4 oz cream cheese
1/2 c sour cream
1 tb minced garlic
1/4 c chopped herbs - whatever is fresh in your kitchen garden (I used tarragon, parsley, chives and oregano this time. Cut the leaves with a mezzaluna to release some of the oils and to avoid having large pieces of leaf in your dip.)
Mix together and let sit about an hour for flavors to blend.
I serve with broccoli and carrot slices.
This dip is also good to stuff mushroom caps or cherry tomatoes. I also used it as a spread for my burger.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


My go-to meal for breakfast, lunch and yes, sometimes even dinner on a rare night to myself, combines garden miscellany with pantry staples. It's portable, it's never the same twice, it's crustless quiche.

Tonight I made zucchini-tomato-cheddar, but the combinations are endless. Here are the basics:

Quiche base
3/4 c egg white
2 eggs
1 1/4 c milk
2 ts mustard (I usually use dijon...tonight I used champagne dill)
1/2 c shredded cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk the above ingredients together and pour over filling (see below) into buttered pie plate. I usually top with additional shredded cheese and some fresh minced herbs, whatever I have on hand. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cool. Cut. Eat. Yum!

Quiche filling
You will need about 3-5 cups total of your chosen filling combination, depending on how dense your ingredients are. For tonight's creation, I used about 2 cups of steamed zucchini and about 2 cups of quartered cherry tomatoes.
Zucchini-tomato-cheddar crustless quiche, and some of the ingredients I used to make it.

Another one of this summer's other faves:
Chard/bacon/onion - Sautee 1/2 a chopped onion in 1 tb of olive oil and 1/4 c bacon bits. Once the onion softens, empty the pan into the pie plate, put another tb olive oil in the pan and sautee about 4 cups chopped rainbow chard leaves and stems, turning it constantly until wilted. Add the chard to the pie plate, pour over the quiche base, and top with cheese (I used gruyere!).
I am looking forward to trying this one with kale in another month or so.

I also plan to try it with some canned (blech!) and frozen ingredients during the winter. Hopefully I will have enough herbs on hand still to flavor up the blandness. Sausage and shrimp? Spinach and artichoke? We'll see...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Salad dressing mania

As summer winds down, my tomatoes are in full force. That and trying to use up bits of this produce and that means every dinner has a salad course these days.
Store bought dressings all have sugar - or worse, HFCS - so I am trying my hand at making my own. These are some of my new favorites.

Each recipe makes approximately 12 oz. I reuse the glass containers that store bought sauces had come in.

Balsamic vinaigrette
3/4 c olive oil
3/4 c balsamic vinegar
1 clove (or more!) minced garlic
1/2 ts dried oregano
2 ts dijon mustard
pinch of coarse black pepper
Great on any salad, but Caprese is my favorite!

Ginger dressing

2 shredded baby carrots
2 tb white wine vinegar
2 tb cider vinegar
1 tb tamari
1 ts sesame oil
1 tb minced onion (dried is ok)
1 tb hot mustard
1 tb grated fresh ginger
This dressing comes out very chunky. It has a bit of a kick to it that I like it better on a burger or grilled chicken breast than on a salad.

Lemon parsley dressing
3/4 c olive oil
1/2 c lemon juice
1 tb minced onion (dried is ok)
2 tb chopped fresh parsley
This dressing is very light and mild.