Thursday, September 30, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fall Gardening in 90 Degrees

The new fall greens are growing really nicely. The okra plant is still giving me some okra and the green beans and growing and producing as well. The only loss so far has been that the squirrels have demolished the lettuce. So, we put in extra wood around the broken fence to keep the creatures from coming in through the holes. And, we planted some more lettuce and more greens. We also spent time thinning out the radishes and greens.

Here is the happy little plot:

Disregrard the trash heaps on either side, my landlord is finally getting rid of the shed that was destroyed during the summer storms.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Read this Book: Eaarth by Bill McKibben

Barbara Kingsolver, who I love and adore and love some more says: "Read it, please. Straight through to the end. Whatever else you were planning to do next, nothing could be more important."

I couldn't agree with her more. Eaarth by Bill McKibben is such an important book to read. It will reshape the way you think about climate change and really challenge you to think about what to do now, since we have already irreversibly changed the climate on our planet. McKibben says, "Imagine we live on a planet. Not our cozy, taken-for-granted earth, but a planet, a real one, with darkpoles and belching volcanoes and a heaving, corrosive sea, raked by winds, strafed by storms, scorched by heat. An inhospitable place. It’s a different place. A different planet. It needs a new name."

You have to read the first half of the book quickly. It is a depressing picture of our world and the harsh realities of climate change and our culture of growth and bigness. McKibben says, "We have, in short, goosed our economy with one jolt of Viagra after another, anything to avoid facing the fact that our reproductive days were past and hence constant and unrelenting thrust was no longer so necessary. (I suspect global warming is the planetary equivalent of the dread 'erection lasting more than four hours' that we're warned about on the TV commercials.)" (I thought the metaphor was pretty funny, anyway).

Much of his solution to living on this new planet, Eaarth, has to do with investment and revitalization of local economies. The first local economy he discusses in the book is the food economy. He says, "So it's unsettling (but also the first unambiguously good news this book has to offer) to learn that serious people have begun to rethink small-scale agriculture, perhaps just in time to help us deal with the strains of our new planet." I enjoyed his presentation of the many facets of local economies and how to meet human needs on Eaarth (not just in the US but around the world, even in the developing world).

Another part of the solution is working to get our atmosphere back on track by lowering the amount of CO2 to 350 parts per million. Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. Currently, we are over 388 parts per million. You can check out his organization on their website There are organizing a global action day on 10/10/10. Check it out here.

Read the book, check out the website, and really start thinking about ways you can help solve the complex issues we are confronted with by McKibben.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Erdbeerbowle: German Strawberry Punch

I almost forgot, one of the other favorites from Labor Day was my friend's strawberry punch called Erdbeerbowle (from Germany). Here is what she says on how to make it and according to her, it is simple!

Erdbeerbowle: German Strawberry Punch (per Miriam)

What You Need
- About 2 boxes of strawberries
- Sugar
- Brandy (optional)
- 1 bottle white wine
- 1 bottle of champagne

What You Do
1. Slice or halve the strawberries and place them in a container that is large enough so the berries are just one layer.
2. Sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over the berries. Less sugar if the berries are really sweet (my mom hardly uses any sugar at all!) and up to like a 1/4 cup if they are not so sweet. It's up to taste-- but don't fret about this! (NOTE: You can also add a shot or so of brandy at this step, if you like, recommendation would be cointreau.)
3. Put strawberries in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours
4. Add a bottle of white wine
5. Refrigerate for at least 2 more hours
6. Right before you serve, add a bottle of champagne
7. Some people garnish with mint leaves or lemon peels

With strawberries+sugar+wine+champagne, you really can't go wrong. If it comes out too sweet just add more champagne. My friend says that her grandparents make it with 1 bottle wine, 1 bottle champagne, and 1 bottle seltzer water for a more refreshing summer punch.

Last note, you can make this the night before you need it. Doesn't matter if the strawberries sit in the sugar all night, and they can also soak in the white wine for well over 2 hours, if need be. Just make sure to add the champagne immediately before serving.

Thanks Miriam! :)

Rosh Hashanah Meals, Including a Vegetarian Casserole!

For Day One of Rosh Hashanah, we kept the meal light and vegetarian. We made some salads, a kugel, and an eggplant and zucchini casserole. My mom and I both made the casserole again the following week, it was so good and easy to make.

Layered Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato Casserole (from Food and Wine)

What You Need
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and brushing
- 3 medium zucchini (1 1/2 pounds), sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
- 2 long, narrow eggplants (1 1/2 pounds)(the recipe says to peel them, but I didn't, I also used a variety of eggplant not just narrow ones) sliced lengthwise 1/3 inch thick
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 pound plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (3/4 cup) (I used more!)
- 1/4 cup chopped basil (I used more)
- 1/3 cup panko or coarse dry bread crumbs

What You Do
1. Preheat the oven to 425°.
2. Oil 2 large rimmed baking sheets.
3. Put the zucchini slices on one sheet and the eggplant on the other. Brush the slices all over with oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Arrange the slices on each sheet in a slightly overlapping layer. Bake for 15 minutes, until tender.
5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil.
6. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, 3 minutes.
7. Add the tomatoes and cook over high heat until slightly softened and bubbling, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Oil a large, shallow baking dish (about 10 by 15 inches).
9. Lay half of the eggplant in the dish and spread one-fourth of the tomatoes on top.
10. Scatter with half of the feta and basil.
11. Layer half of the zucchini on top, followed by another one-fourth of the tomato and the remaining basil, eggplant and zucchini.
12. Top with the remaining tomato and feta.
13. Mix the panko with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle over the casserole.
14. Bake in the upper third of the oven for 20 minutes, until bubbling and crisp.
15. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve hot or warm.

For the second day of Rosh Hashanah we had a more traditional meal with roasted potatoes, brisket (sweet and sour, refer to old post), honey glazed carrots, and grilled veggies.

It was a delicious holiday!

Grilled Tomatoes

I found some wonderful heirloom tomatoes at the farmer's market before Labor Day.

Charred Heirloom Tomatoes with Fresh Herbs (from Bon Appetit- do you see a pattern for my recipes from Labor Day?)

What You Need
- 4 large firm heirloom tomatoes (about 10 ounces each), cored, cut horizontally in half
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
- 5 tablespoons (about) extra-virgin olive oil, divided

What You Do
1. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, on rimmed baking sheet.
2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then 1 1/2 tablespoons each oregano and thyme leaves.
3. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil.
4. Let stand at room temperature.
5. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat).
6. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on rack (they said to brush the rack with oil, but I didn't).
7. Cook until bottoms are charred, 3 to 4 minutes. (Be careful with these guys on the grill!)
8. Turn tomatoes over and grill just to sear, about 1 minute.
9. Turn cut side up onto platter.
10. Sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon each oregano and thyme, then drizzle with more oil, if desired.

Serve warm.

Cucumber Salad

This was the biggest surprise from the cook out. I saw it online when looking for menu ideas for the day. Since I am so obsessed with pickles, I couldn't resist. But, I didn't know how others would react to the dish. Everyone loved it (it was one of my mom's favorite dishes of the week). We are even making it again for Yom Kippur Breakfast.

Sweet-and-Sour Cucumbers with Fresh Dill (from Bon Appetit)

What You Need
-2 English hothouse cucumbers (1 1/2 pounds total), unpeeled, very thinly sliced
-1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
-1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
-1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
-3 tablespoons sugar
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

What You Do
1. Place cucumber slices in colander.
2. Sprinkle with salt; toss to coat.
3. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Meanwhile, for dressing, stir vinegar, dill, sugar, and pepper in large bowl until sugar is dissolved.
5. Drain cucumbers well; pat dry.
6. Add cucumbers to dressing and stir to blend.
7. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours; serve cold.


Labor Day Potato Salad

This potato salad was delicious. Try it out for a fall cookout!

Potato and Pea Salad with Chive Aioli (from Bon Appetit)

What You Need:
-3 pounds small red-skinned new potatoes, unpeeled
-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
-3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
-1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
-1 cup mayonnaise
-6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (from the garden!)
-1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
-2 garlic cloves, pressed
-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this gives it a little kick!)

What You Do:
1. Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 25 minutes.
2. Drain; cool.
3. Cut potatoes into quarters.
4. Transfer to large bowl; add vinegar and toss to coat. Mix in celery and peas.
5. Whisk mayonnaise, 5 tablespoons chives, mustard, garlic, and cayenne pepper in small bowl to blend.
6. Add to potato mixture and toss.
7. Season generously with salt and pepper.
8. Cover and chill at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.

NOTE: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon chives and serve.

Labor Day

My mother came into town for a week to celebrate two holidays: Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah. First came Labor Day where we had a Labor Day cookout on Sunday followed by a day-long hike at Sugarloaf.

The hike was wonderful and the cookout was a major hit.

The menu:
- Grilled Veggies (marinated in red wine vinegrette)
- Grilled Heirloom Tomato
- Potato Salad
- Cabbage Salad/Slaw
- Sweet and Sour Cucumbers
- Peach Cobbler (and vanilla ice cream, of course)

There were plenty of drinks and some additions to the food brought by guests! The food was great. The next couple posts will include recipes from the highlights.

Frenzy of Blogging!

I’ve been holding back some blog posts because I’ve been so busy with the Jewish holidays and starting graduate school. I have some down time this evening, so here we go!

Friday, September 3, 2010


So, you saw the cukes I got from the garden. I've also harvested two okra pods. I see two big tomatoes turning red as well as plenty of baby tomatoes. Additionally, looks like we will have nearly 7 peppers. Wooohooo! Here of some pictures of the produce:

I planted the brussles sprouts and cauliflower yesterday. We also started some lettuce inside the house. On Sat., we will get out and plant much of the greens and other veggies for the fall garden.