Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Arizona Farmers Market

I enjoy visiting Farmers Markets when we travel. I know, I said that before, but this one was really different. Because of the heat they have it in the late afternoon to night. I do not blame them, it was HOT! Over one hundred degrees daily while we were there. I have no desire to move back to Texas because of the heat- just visit my friends and ponder on the cacti. So many varieties.

So beautiful-

We had prickly pear candy and lemonade. Maybe I would turn into a Javelina. They like their prickly pears. I wanted so badly to pick some and bring them home, but they say you have to know when they are ripe. Throw in a handful of Chia seeds and you won't dehydrate-

I found it a bit sweet, but we added sparkling water to the mix and it worked wonderfully for a refreshing heat beater! I will share my market buys soon, I bought lots of fun things I have not cooked before, and have Spain posts to share.

Seems like there is so little time to do all the posting we have, right? 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Not My House, Elvira's- Tubac, AZ

I am back to cooking, and preparing vegetarian and simple meals during the week, but I have to say meals like this while traveling are superb moments in one's busy life-

Elvira's is a hot spot in an old-new town of Tubac, with lots of colorful history in Arizona, on the way back into Tucson from Sierra Vista. Tubac was the original Spanish colonial garrison in Arizona. It was depopulated during the O'odham Uprising in the eighteenth century. During the nineteenth century, the area was repopulated by miners, farmers and ranchers, but the town of Tubac is best known today as an artists' colony.

We had Tongue Molcajete with Salsa Verde Sauce- the mortar comes out piping hot, boiling like a volcano, with a side of beans and guacamole. I was apprehensive, but it was good. Tasted like chick...no beef! Strange though...it had bok choy and cubes of tofu- Mex/Asian Fusion I suppose.

I had a spicy- Tamarind sauce over mesquite grilled shrimp on top of pineapple with rice and beans. Was a bit sweet, but I was excited to see the popcorn like topping, Amaranto (Amaranth). Doggybloggy sent me some that is in the freezer, so I have to use it now, or sometime in the future. Added a nice flavor to the dish.

Now the Honey-Prickly Pear Margarita was yummy, along with the sauteed mushrooms we had as a starter in corn tortillas. This is not authentic Mexican, but the spicy habanero salsa had me ordering another one.

Reminds me of visiting Velva of Tomatoes On The Vine- Refreshing and you could almost taste it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Greens In My Pasta

This may not be a pretty plate of food, but its pretty on the palate. Also a great way to get the greens in with dinner. I saute collard, or a mixture of beet greens and other tops with red onion in some oil and butter, then add fresh tomato sauce. Louis my boss the owner of Amalthea Cellars down in south Jersey always preaches about simplicity of recipes. In his wine and on the plate. His mom, Maria and I work in the kitchen on recipes for the winery tastings, and for my music and poetry gathers he host for me. Tomatoes, basil, onion, salt and pepper are the only thing she puts in her sauce. Let it sit for a few days to meld the flavors. She is right, I have gone back to basics this past summer.

Want extra flavor, add some meatballs, as I have done, ground buffalo with veal.

One thing I have learned moving here to New Jersey, mixed meats make the best meatballs. I grew up on plain beef hamburger, the fatty cheap kind, maybe a few spices, but they were bland. My mother new how I felt, and did not mind when I kicked mine up a notch once I moved out, with garlic and spicy flavors. However she might even like the ones I have learned to make in the past five years.

Pasta is only eaten once or twice a month here in our house, with my not tolerating gluten so well, but I have found one made in Pittsburg, PA- Pen Mac whole wheat. This pasta does not taste like the old versions of whole wheat, and it looks white after cooking. I called them and asked when they would make a gluten free version, and the owner emailed me and said he would work on it. Evidently Pittsburg is quite the pasta and sauce making town. You can order their products on-line if you desire. I have had them sent as gifts to hubby's family.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Locavore Eating- End of the Summer Blues

Farmers markets, wine pairing, and eating local can go hand in hand. If you prepare yourself to feast upon its bounty, and except every bit of what you buy can be incorporated into a meal...then you can help keep your community sustainable.

Purchased: spring onions, beans, zucchini (Vegetable Marrow White Bush variety- creamy greenish color, oblong shape), other green vegetables, Elephant garlic, blueberries and lots of them! Duck breast and cut up chicken from Griggstown (only $1 more than whole), herbs, bread, and so much more!

Had on hand: fennel bulb, mustard, and all the rest of ingredients to make 'Blueberry Chutney' for desserts and sauce for the duck. Sad thing is...we will not see it again until next May.

Terhune Orchards has apple and other fruit available for fresh picking. This is where I got my blueberries for my sauce making, and 'Putting Up'.  I am making plans to jar and sell locally, along with some chili paste I have been selling by the half pound. I plan on staying in the kitchen professionally any way I can, but over the summer I formed a group called Red Dashboard, and we perform my writing, poetry, songs. I was in NYC on Saturday, after getting invited by a Lit Group- Caper Journal.

If you want to hear my work, you can come over to my Creative TMI blog and listen...we need lots of practice, and I am still in the gym (not happy with my body shape), but enjoy; it will only get better...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Open Up The Hatch

Release the flavor of chilies by roasting them is what I am talking about!

This past weekend, my Open Mic crew and I have begun an annual camp out at Parvin State Park. 'Fireside' Open Mic, and I do the cooking. I love it. One summer I was the cook for a Boy Scout camp with my son, and what fun it can be.

Bacon and Asparagus Omeletes for breakfast. Dowel biscuits over the fire. That was a tricky one, no photos of the burnt, stuck to the wood, partially edible mess. Fun memories though.

My father's old tools and camping equipment came in handy- like the hacksaw he may have used in a few heist, uh, I mean work jobs in his business for gathering wood. Our aluminum picnic table I have used for years, and a few TV trays that crack my friends up, because they look retro. Knives with scissors on them for opening up containers...oh, another day, another story.

So we had two options for cooking. A grill up on the deck of the cabin, and a pit fire circle further out. The first day we used the more convenient one upon the deck. I roasted the 'Hatch' chili's I found at Whole Foods. I was so excited when I saw them. Things are moving up here. Before you know it I will have better Tex-Mex, or at least a choice, rather than none. I used some pecan shells, and wood chips I soaked in the wood to do some of the open flame cooking. I brought them back from Arizona Farmers Market.

After putting them in a bag to steam off the skins, I chopped them up and put them into a Quinoa Chili, with sauteed onions, sweet potato (to add some sweetness and balance heat), yellow squash, homemade canned tomatoes, chicken and sausage. Not much meat. I wanted the Hatch flavor to ring out. I added water and the quinoa to thicken it up, make it more filling.

I also cooked fajitas in a grill cage over the open flame with a new concept of smoking I had not done before, and will put that up next...

No photos of the chili- photography for your blog is a tricky thing to explain when it comes to a group of hungry people. So enjoy our beautiful view, and look out for the 'Moderate' Big Foot sighting I photographed on the next post...