Archive for June, 2010

by Sarah Steimer

It’s coming along!

Dad and I started a vegetable garden about a month ago from plants barely four inches tall and now I think it’s fair to say they’re adolescents.

We have a cucumber plant, three different types of tomato plants and three different types of pepper plants. The marigolds surround the garden because they (supposedly) keep the deer away. I may plant more.

You’ll notice some massive leaves on the right there: That guy was not expected. It’s definitely some sort of gourd from a seed we think escaped from the compost bin that sits right next to the garden. The leaves are massive. I was going to take a picture with my hand next to a leaf for some perspective…but I have the littlest hands ever.

We’re starting to see flowers on most of the plants, mainly the tomatoes and cucumber. The peppers had a little struggle because of slugs eating the leaves a couple of weeks ago. But some (crummy) beer in saucers below the pepper plants helped solve that.

Mom and I also have Martha & Sarah’s Herb Bungalows 2010: chives, rosemary, cilantro, oregano and basil.

Today’s gardening lessons?

Gourds grow like weeds. Beer fixes everyone’s problems.

photo: Sarah Steimer


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by Sarah Steimer

Be warned: This takes quite a bit of prep work. But definitely worth it.

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 pound medium pasta shells
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 4 ounces gruyere cheese (I used Swiss instead, gruyere is expensive), grated (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 4 ounces baby spinach

Grate the zucchini into a colander using the large holes of a box grater. Toss with 1 tablespoon salt, then place in the sink to drain, about 15 minutes. Squeeze out the excess liquid.

Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, nutmeg, cayenne, 2 teaspoons salt, and black pepper to taste and mix with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste puffs slightly, about 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk, then add the thyme, bay leaves and lemon zest and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened slightly, about 25 minutes. Strain into a bowl; discard the herbs.

Meanwhile, position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and add to the sauce.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring, until almost tender, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini mixture to the pasta along with the egg yolks and all but 3 tablespoons of both cheeses; stir to combine, then add the spinach.

Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the reserved cheeses. Bake until browned on top and heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

source: The Bitten Word

photo: Sarah Steimer

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by Caitlin Saniga

Serve the beans and slaw with tortilla chips or white rice.

The main dish: Black Beans With Feta and Cabbage Slaw

  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups cole slaw mix
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • hot sauce, if desired

Place beans and cumin in a small bowl; partially mash. Mix olive oil and lime juice in a medium bowl; add slaw, onions and cilantro. Toss to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper.

In a separate medium bowl, partially mash black beans. Add cumin and mix well. Add feta and toss.

Serve as a heaping pile of slaw topped with the bean mixture. Pass hot sauce alongside.

Recipe: Bon Appetit

The side: Lemony Tomato and Avocado Salad

  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped into small chunks
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced into small chunks
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. *Start with a little less lemon juice, and keep adding until you find the right amount.

Recipe: Brenda Balli, my roommate

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

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by Sarah Steimer

This bread makes great paninis.

Note: The amounts below make two loaves of bread, so I usually cut this recipe in half.

  • 2 3/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 1/2 cups flour
  • choice of toppings/fillings

Combine yeast, salt and sugar. Add olive oil and water. Stir in flour. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let sit for two hours. In the meantime, prepare toppings/fillings. I went with garlic and some herbs from my garden: chives, basil and oregano.

On a floured surface and flouring the surface of the dough, roll into about a 1/2 inch-thick (doesn’t have to be perfect) rectangle. Add your choice of ingredients (I chopped everything up finely and sprinkled it on). Roll up as if a jellyroll. Press this into a ball then flatten again, making sure to flour the surface as necessary.

Place this onto a sheet of parchment paper and re-flatten if necessary. Flour the blade of a knife and cut 3-inch slits in the dough. I usually do three horizontal slices on the left and three on the right (see picture below). Brush with more olive oil, covering the surface of the bread. I sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top along with some of the garlic and herbs I set aside. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Source: Life’s a Feast blog

Photos: Sarah Stemer

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by Sarah Steimer

Almost forgot to take the picture before everyone polished it off…

  • 2 cups chickpeas, rinsed
  • 6-7 artichoke hearts, rinsed and quartered (most artichoke hearts in cans come pre-quarted)
  • 7-8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted (I prefer a bit more…)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Combine olive oil, crushed pepper, salt and minced garlic. Toss it with the artichokes, chickpeas and garlic cloves in an oven-proof dish in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Broil for 5-7 minutes until tops are browned. Crush the sesame seeds, combine with lemon zest, juice and sesame oil. Toss with the artichoke mixture.

Source: eCurry blog

Photo: Sarah Steimer

  1. 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans/chickpeas/chana, drained and rinsed
  2. 6-7 artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and quartered (if you are using artichokes in oil,  you may use them with some of the oil)
  3. 7-8 cloves of garlic, peeled
  4. 1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
  5. Salt
  6. a generous glug of  extra virgin olive oil
  7. crushed red pepper
  8. 1.5 teaspoons white sesame seeds, very lightly toasted
  9. 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  10. 1.5 teaspoon lemon juice
  11. 1 tablespoon pure sesame oil

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by Sarah Steimer

  • 8-oz. package of Japanese soba noodles OR whole-wheat linguine
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips OR 1 l.b extra-firm tofu, diced
  • 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

Cook noodles according to package directions until al dente. Drain and toss immediately in a large bowl with the sesame oil. In a large skillet, cook the chicken or tofu  then add to the pasta. Cook the peppers, carrots, onion, scallions and red pepper flakes. Stir frequently until veggies are tender-crisp. Add noodles, chicken or tofu, soy sauce and teriyaki sauce to the pan with the veggies and toss together for about 1 minute.

Source: Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Photo: Sarah Steimer

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by Caitlin Saniga

Cucumber-Feta Relish

If you can chop and stir, you can make this. It's so easy.

  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped (White onion works, too.)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, plus 1/4 tablespoon each of salt and pepper. Voila! Here’s heaven. Serve it on fresh spinach or with pita.

Recipe: Real Simple

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

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