Zucchini-corn fritters (gluten-free)

I like petite zucchini. There’s just something about the scale of a giant summer squash that seems, I don’t know, wrong. I know it’s not wrong, that this is just some silly subconscious preconceived notion about what should be the limits of squash growth, something probably covered by Freud in one of his texts. But reasoning with myself on this does no good. I will fish out the little guys from the bin at the farmer’s market, loving them for their convenient circumference and polite volume of seeds.

But of course, I also won’t turn down a big specimen, not when offered one from a friend’s garden.

Which is what happened a few weeks ago — my in-laws came through town, and I was handed a large zucchini, fresh from their vegetable patch. I brought it home with gratitude, and within a few hours had it shredded down to the perfect amount for making up a batch of zucchini fritters. I had leftover grilled corn cobs in the fridge to use up, with the challenge of making this batch grain-free. The skillet was heating up as I was stripping the corn of its kernels.

I ended up using the fritters as a base for dinner — one that involved sautéed kale and an over-easy egg on top. But several inspirational recipes included dips of sour cream cut with a little lime juice and spiked with chopped chives, or creme fraiche (easy to make at home). The sweetness of the corn (with a smoky component if you use grilled) perked up the texture and flavor of my usual standby fritter. My kids rejected them outright, so that left me with about 10 fritters all to myself over the next day or two — which I had no problem consuming, they were that good.

Good, and able to clear my conscience of squash discrimination.

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For this recipe, it can help your knuckles if you have a food processor — this one is my favorite. You’ll also do well to have a good pre-seasoned cast-iron pan.

 

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This post was linked up to the Seasonal Recipe Roundup: Zucchini at GNOWFGLINS.

 

 

Ferment Friday, no. 1: beets

These days my life seems to revolve around finding various items at the farmer’s market, sticking them in a brine, and watching to see what happens.

You know, when it’s not revolving around sleeping, or finding highly-educational and physically-beneficial activities for my summered children to do all day, or feeding painfully-nourishing foods to those worn-out children, or eating bon-bons.

Because what could be more fun than fermenting random things? And sharing those things on Fridays?

So a mini-series it will be. Ferment Fridays. Not likely to happen every Friday, but you know, when it happens.

What’s with fermentation, anyway? Well, it was the original method of pickling — vegetables were dry-salted or brined, and therefore preserved for longer storage (through winter, in some cases). Meanwhile, as often happens, that preservation made vitamins and minerals more readily available, and increased the levels of lactic acid bacteria (bugs that are good for your gut). While the process doesn’t leave the veggies with the same intense punch of a vinegar (or “fresh”) pickle, they are still sour, sometimes quite pungent.

It took me a while to transition from a taste for fresh pickles to fermented pickles. But I’m there now, and loving it.

Today’s feature: fermented beets.

This is my second attempt at fermenting beets (not to be confused with pickling beets) — the first involved shredding the roots, making a relish. But these slices are crunchier, with the ultra-clean flavors of orange and ginger (see recipe note). I love these on salads, with eggs, or eating straight from the jar.

Only slightly more labor-intensive than other pickles because you shock them in boiling water first. But totally worth that extra five minutes.

Because, really. What’s five minutes in a world where ferments are happening?

 

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Fermented Beets with Ginger & Orange on Punk Domestics

Garlic scape pesto

One of my favorite things to do is go to the farmer’s market, stand at the table of one of the vendors, pick something up, and have to say, “What’s this?”

My agricultural ignorance continues, and I hope it never stops.

Last weekend it happened with these beauties:

Garlic scapes.

The stalk of the garlic bulb — I’d heard the name but never seen them. The farmer* sold a bunch to me for a buck, and told me to use them in stir-fry, that they needed to be cooked a little.

But for some reason when he said the name, “garlic scape,” the next word that came to mind was “pesto.”

So I came home, googled it, whipped up a batch, and proceeded to eat almost all of it (alone) in just three days. I bought five more bunches at yesterday’s market — I’ve no plans to be without a jar of this in my fridge anytime soon.

Fiercely pungent, with a solid kick. Performs a small miracle on a plate of scrambled eggs, and if I were a bread-eating girl right now, I’d for sure be spreading it on a tomato sandwich. For now I’ll settle with a carrier of grain-free crackers, looking forward to more adventures next summer when I’m back on the grain wagon.

*These scapes came from Wild’s Apple Farm, which sells chemical-free produce at the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market.

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Recipe: Garlic Scape Pesto

: makes about 3/4 cup

very closely adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

  • 8-10 garlic scapes, trimmed of small bulbs at end of stalk
  • 1/2 cup almonds (could sub walnuts)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash scapes, and chop into 1″ pieces. Place in bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add almonds, and process until a paste forms (scrape down bowl as necessary).
  2. With machine running, slowly pour in 1/2 cup olive oil.
  3. Add parmesan, pulse to combine.
  4. Thin with additional 1/4 cup olive oil if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Can be served immediately, but flavor mellows a bit with time.
  6. Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to a week.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

 

An Easter lamb roast & smoked trout deviled eggs

We have friends, who for the second year running on Easter Sunday, have purchased a whole lamb, roasted it on an open fire in their backyard, and invited a slew of neighbors, friends, and friends-of-friends to come share the celebration. This year, the weather was just about perfect — bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky, but a cool breeze warranted an on-again, off-again sweater.

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easter-lambcheck

Host John, along with a couple of neighbors, started the lamb at 5am. They had help basting from cute, egg-hunting little hands.

easter-sandbox

I think that in my 3-year old’s future therapy sessions, there will be questions about why we didn’t have a sandbox like this in our backyard. That she could live in all the time, without anyone else around.

easter-lemonade

Kid-friendly lemonade in the world’s coolest drink dispenser.

easter-mojitos

And of course grown-up “lemonade” (mojitos) which was guarded closely against not-yet-literate, innocent, curious mouths. (Let the records show, that even after that precaution, my own preschooler drank a giant gulp of my white wine when my head was turned, and simply inquired where I got the “sparkly water.”

easter-deviledeggs

If the backyard lamb is becoming a tradition, then so is my contribution: a couple renditions of deviled eggs. These smoked trout gems might be my personal favorite variation to date — I love a smokey deviled egg, and they fit the bill. A garnish of toasted almonds lends just the crunch to avoid the mushies (recipe below).

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A lot of people, from different places about town and the world, many of whom were meeting each other for the first time.

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easter-kidshiding

easter-runningforeggs

After dessert #1, it was time for the egg hunt. You might think the bigger kids had a decided advantage, but if you did, you would be greatly underestimating the vast number of eggs that were scattered over adjoining backyards.

easter-egghat

easter-egghatgrab

Our friend Kyle had the best hat, and the best egg-hiding place (only found after we led my son to him, and said something to the effect of, “wow, what is that thing on Mr. Kyle’s hat???)

easter-eating

I hope it’s becoming a tradition (ahem, nudge, hint) — perhaps I can pledge to bring deviled eggs every year, never repeating a recipe? Because it’s hard to think of a better way to spend Easter.

I’ll be making these eggs again, Easter or not. I’m a firm believer that you never need an excuse to make deviled eggs — and they fit perfectly on my diet right now (though the smoked fish part is likely a no-no, I’m turning a blind eye). If you’re in Indy, try sourcing the smoked trout from Goose the Market — though if they’re out you can pick it up in a tin at The Fresh Market (look by the sardines).

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Recipe: Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs

: adapted very slightly from this recipe at Food & Wine

If your eggs are very fresh (as in, recently-laid), they might be difficult to peel. To facilitate: after eggs have cooled completely in the ice water, bring a small pot of water to boil. Add an egg to the water for 10-15 seconds — then peel immediately. The heat causes the egg to temporarily contract from the shell.

Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs
  • (1) 3.2 oz can smoked trout (or 3.5-4 oz from your local butcher or fishmonger)
  • 3-4 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp finely-chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp curry powder, to taste
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp finely-chopped toasted almonds

Instructions

  1. To a large pot of boiling water, carefully add the eggs and boil for 12 minutes. Remove immediately to a bowl of ice water, and let cool completely.
  2. Peel eggs, slice in half, and scoop yolks into a medium-sized bowl.
  3. If using canned trout, carefully remove the skin, and flake the fish into the bowl with the yolks. Add the mayo (start w/ 3 Tbsp, adding more if necessary), parsley, and curry powder, and mash with a fork until well-combined.
  4. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary (the trout will add salt).
  5. Scoop filling into a sealable plastic bag, and cut off the tip of one corner. Pipe the filling into the egg halves. Garnish with a sprinkling of almonds, and serve.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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In case you need another way to eat kale

kale-salad-currants

I mean, speaking of trends. Kale has been up there for quite a while — and I’m totally ok with that, since it’s my favorite green. Sturdy, not very bitter, can even be crunchy, and takes well to acid, like balsamic vinegar.

We most often eat it sautéed, and of course there’s the occasional baking sheet of kale chips that I scarf all by my lonesome. But there are many ways to enjoy it raw* as well — in smoothies, juiced, and in salads. Because it’s such a hearty green, it takes well to strong flavors, and works best when softened with a little olive oil or salt. I fell in love last fall with a kale and grapefruit salad, but just last week turned my affection to a new raw salad full of texture and sweet/salty flavors. An excellent January lunch.

One of the best characteristics of this salad is its keeping power — while regular lettuces, once dressed, must be immediately consumed, kale can hold its own a couple of days. I’ve made a double recipe and kept it in a refrigerated glass container for easy lunches. Keep in mind that the kale, once massaged with salt, wilts a good bit — so start with more leaves than you think you need. Feel free to adjust additions to your liking — this recipe is made to customize!
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Recipe: Raw Kale Salad with Currants

: adapted closely from a recipe in Feeding the Whole Family (made dairy free, reduced salt)

Ingredients

  • one (1/2-pound) bunch kale
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds (toasted, or soaked/dehydrated)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup currants (can sub raisins)
  • 1/2 apple, diced
  • 2-4 Tbsp olive oil, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Wash kale thoroughly, and remove leaves from tough stems. Chop leaves into thin ribbons.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the kale leaves with salt. Massage the leaves for a few minutes, until kale is wilted, softened a bit, and deep green in color.
  3. Add the seeds, onion, currants and apple. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar over top, and toss to combine. Serve immediately, or store in a sealed container for up to two days (possibly longer).

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* Some research shows that eating large amounts of raw cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc) contributes to the suppression of thyroid function, especially if you are low in iodine. If you have or are at risk for thyroid disease, you might limit your intake of these vegetables in raw form — you can read more here.

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Grain-free crackers

crackers

I’ve been grain- (and mostly dairy-) free for about a month now, and have not yet died of starvation. I consider this a win.

I know, I know. First-world problems, right? Because I’m not really starving. It just feels like it some days — and it’s not like I’m that limited in what I can eat. It’s more the fact that I can’t rely on so many things that I’ve historically used as quick hunger-quenchers — those things that you just grab and snack on to quiet your belly until you can eat a proper meal. As a mother of small children, this list of things historically included:

  • crust cut off lunch sandwiches
  • crumbs from bowls of snack crackers
  • an extra piece of cheese that won’t fit onto the bread for kids’ grilled sandwich
  • the occasional chocolate sandwich cookie, eaten while kids aren’t looking

Looking at that list, I see that I’ve been functioning as nothing more than a glorified human dust-buster for my kids’ meal time messes (I’ll call it multi-tasking). You’ll notice that none of these things are inherently unhealthy (a question mark looming over the cookie)  — they are just off-limits for me right now, with all of their grain-y-ness. Which often leaves me in that dreaded position of standing in front of an open refrigerator, wishing something edible and GAPS-friendly would materialize before my eyes. Something other than butternut squash.

If I had to make a list of things I missed, things that caused me to physically ache in my abstinence — perched high upon a glowing pinnacle would be homemade pizza. I’m still making it every Saturday night for my family, and darnit if it doesn’t kill me just about every week, not to be able to eat it.

But second on that list might be crackers. It’s not that I’ve historically eaten vast quantities of them, it’s just a thing that, when you want one, there’s little that can replace it. I can’t satisfy my need for salty crunch with yet another hard-boiled egg. When you want a cracker, only a cracker will do. And while fake pizza crust is something that will never satisfy my need — a grain-free cracker is something I can make with believability.

I went through a few recipes for nut/seed varieties before finding one I liked. Many recipes call for mostly seeds — but I only like seeds in very small amounts. So I went heavy on nuts instead, and added a little extra salt, and lo and behold, we had a winner. I’ve enjoyed them so much, topped with everything from cheese (cheating! and I regretted it!) to peanut butter to our beloved Almond-Tomato Spread. They are so good, and so much better than my previous grain-based attempts at homemade crackers, I’ll likely keep them around, even after these long, dark days of avoidance are past.

 

Recipe: Grain-free Nut & Seed Crackers

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups nuts and seeds (I used about a 2-cup combo of walnuts & almonds, plus 1/2 cup combo of sunflower & sesame seeds — all should be either raw or pre-soaked & dehydrated)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 Tbps water, as needed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º, and have two baking sheets ready. Cut two sheets parchment to fit the sheets (you will roll the dough directly onto the parchment).
  2. In a food processor, process the nuts and seeds until very fine and oils begin to release, about a minute.
  3. Add the egg, sea salt, and 1 Tbsp of water. Process until a ball forms. If dough is too dry, add another Tbsp water (dough should stick together when pressed).
  4. Divide dough into two pieces. One at a time, roll dough between two sheets of parchment (or onto one sheet, with a well-greased rolling pin) until about 1/8″ thick (or even thinner if possible).
  5. Carefully transfer dough (parchment-side down) onto baking sheets. Using a knife or bench scraper, score the dough into the shape/size you desire (it’s ok if some edges are left rough).
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate sheets front to back and top to bottom — and if possible, flip the crackers using a spatula. Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes, until very lightly golden (watch them carefully, the color will barely change — if they get too brown they will taste burned).
  7. Remove from oven, and slide parchment onto counter or cooling rack to cool completely (crackers will become crisper as they cool). Store in an airtight container.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

I’m totally not supposed to be eating these.

tostones-2

See how fun this will be? My blog will become a confessional booth, wherein I ask you to absolve all of my lapses. Perhaps my penance will involve re-scribing, by hand, the sidebar notes from Nourishing Traditions.

All in all, relatively, yesterday’s backslide was not a bad one. I am supposed to be avoiding starches — any and all starchy fruits and vegetables — and these somewhat-greenish plantains were definitely still starchy. But I only ate four five of them. Cross my heart, hope to die.

Confessions aside, I don’t know how I’ve not posted about plantains before. They were my side-dish-of-choice at our favorite Cuban/SoAmerican/BeautifullyBizarro restaurant in Athens. Plantains are a firmer, starchier relative of the banana, and unlike their cousin “dessert bananas,” are usually eaten cooked. I prefer them very ripe (almost totally black skin), quartered and fried in butter and coconut oil, served as maduros, as a side to black bean dishes. But the fresh plantains I picked up on Monday were not fully ripe yesterday, and greener plantains are better suited to double-frying, served as tostones.

(By the way, it seems that preferring my plantains sweet is a very American, gauche thing in the eyes of the plantain purist. Oh well, having already revealed my true nature, this is the least of my worries.)

tostones-1

Turns out, even with double-frying, tostones are pretty easy (though pent-up frustration is helpful during the smashing step, and a candy thermometer is handy as well). They are just the thing to take a plain Central- or South-American inspired meal (a.k.a., in my house, Brazilian Black Beans) from ho-hum to interesting. Or, as my 8-year old likes to say, fancy.

Or even better still, diet-breaking.

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Recipe: Tostones (fried green plantains)

(adapted from this recipe at 3 Guys From Miami)

serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

  • 2 plantains, a bit “green” (mine were yellow and brown, and still quite firm)
  • 1/2 cup (or more) refined coconut oil
  • sea salt

Instructions

  1. Trim the ends of the plantains, and score skin lengthwise with a knife in 3-4 places. Peel off sections of skin — this is more difficult the greener the fruit.
  2. Chop plantains crosswise into 1-inch chunks.
  3. In a cast-iron skillet or dutch oven, add an inch of coconut oil and heat to 300º on a candy thermometer (this is quite hot, but not smoking). Add chunks in a single layer, and cook for 2 minutes without stirring.
  4. Flip chunks (they can stick a bit) and cook another 2 minutes (do not allow them to brown). Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  5. Place each chunk on a flat end. Cover with a small piece of parchment or wax paper, and using the end of a glass. smash each piece so that it’s about 1/2″ thick.
  6. Increase heat of oil to about 375º. Add flattened pieces to hot oil, frying for about a minute on each side, or until golden brown. Remove to a fresh paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Salt immediately & generously (this is best done when plantains are still damp from the cooking oil).
  8. Serve immediately, these do not keep well.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.

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