Tuesday, September 25, 2012

fall colors, summer flavors

 This September has been abnormally hot for San Diego which isn't really a problem and I certainly won't complain about it here, but I will admit that it has set off the game of tug of war that is happening in my brain. A part of my brain keeps thinking about the start of fall and the beautiful colors that come with the start of that season, while the reality is that the weather is very warm and my taste buds want the fresh, summer flavors that are still perfectly appropriate(according to the temperature gauge).

Grated carrot and couscous salad with fresh radish sprouts from my hanging planter
Cream of tomato soup made with fresh tomatoes and basil
So, this month I've been making dishes that have summer flavors but in autumnal colors to remind me that it won't be long until my favorite season arrives....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Breakfast: bright and fresh

Taking a clue from my favorite, fancy coffee shop, Bassam's Coffee House and Tea Room, I decided to make granola and yogurt parfaits for breakfast yesterday morning. I enjoy their parfaits so much that I thought I might try my hand at making one and, while it wasn't nearly as good as their version, it turns out I can make a decently beautiful and tasty parfait. Such a refreshing breakfast!

The glass frosted up instantly because of the high humidity but you can get an idea of all the tasty layers

On Sunday, I knew I would need granola for the parfait so I whipped up more of a "kitchen sink style" of granola than I usually make. I usually follow the recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, but I knew I didn't have any coconut so I just mixed a little honey, a drizzle of oil, a couple spoonfuls of maple sugar and various flavorings (a pinch of cinnamon and allspice, a splash each of vanilla and lemon extract) until it smelled good enough to eat. I stirred in a few scoops of oats and even a half scoop of rolled barley along with whatever nuts I could find in the freezer. After the grains were well coated with the "dressing" I baked the granola for a half hour or so, really just until it looked crispy and delicious.

I love improvising with recipes because sometimes it leads to delicious discoveries; with this particular recipe experimentation, since I wasn't trying to follow a recipe exactly, I felt comfortable adding a little rolled barley to the granola. Turns out, rolled barley is extra crunchy and delicious in granola. I love it!

See the different grains? the cute little barley sticking up in the middle?
 You can see in the close up of the granola a difference between the grains. The rolled oats are wider in diameter but rolled to a thinner depth. The barley is narrower in diameter but thicker in depth. I think the compactness of the barley is what makes it crunchier. Whatever the reason, it's a happy discovery! so, remember to experiment with your cooking!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

totally normal girl canning

The subject of this post is actually a total lie! I still feel like such a super talented amazing grown up with my recent spat of big girl canning projects. Perhaps with a few more canning projects under my belt I'll finally feel as though using a proper water bath and sealing up jars is "totally normal girl canning" but until then I'll continue to revel in my feeling of happy, superior success!

This week I very successfully canned four pints of tomatoes. I got a pretty good deal on some locally grown tomatoes so I went ahead and bought enough of them that I felt an intense urgency to do something with them before they all went bad.

 I don't really know what I'm going to make with these home canned tomatoes that I couldn't make with store bought canned tomatoes, but while canning I recalled a memory of my grandfather insisting that he simply could not make his favorite goulash without a quart of home canned tomatoes. He said that store bought canned tomatoes did not give his favorite dish the proper flavor. That memory has always instilled in me the idea that home canned tomatoes are naturally far better than any other canned tomatoes. Whether that is true or not, who knows! I guess I'll find out this fall when I use these happy little jars of tomatoes.