Category Archives: Recipes

Heaven from earth

One thing I love about summers in New Jersey is the abundance of sweet, flavorful homegrown vegetables. And this was going to be the year that I, a recovering black thumb, attempted my first vegetable garden. I was going to plant tomatoes, eggplant, all sorts of peppers, cucumbers, garlic, basil, thyme … oh, it was to be a a mad melange of nature’s bounty in the middle of my backyard. The area was fenced off, the ground tilled, and the recipes printed and ready to be called into action.

Unfortunately, nature’s bounty had to be put on hold. Blame it on the SHSS – Stupid Health Stick Syndrome. So there was to be no harvesting plump tomatoes and hot peppers, no chomping down on crunchy baby cucumbers, no garlicky grilled eggplant and zucchini, no “yeah, I grew those myself” remarks over vegetable crudites and homemade ranch dressing laden with fresh herbs.

But I’m not ticked off. Really, I’m not. Okay, maybe just a little. But I’ll get over it. Eventually.

Meanwhile, my husband’s co-worker who owns acreage somewhere in Pennsylvania was untouched by SHSS. (I am beginning to wonder if NJ might have something to do with SHSS. Shrew may have to help me investigate the validity of that theory.) So for the past few weeks, we’ve been the grateful beneficiaries of said co-worker’s generosity, and his overwhelming surplus.


Aren’t they lovely?

Now would not be a time to remind me that I’m allergic to tomatoes. I’ve decided that homegrown tomatoes don’t count because they’re ultra-mega-super organic. Yeah, that’s the official FDA designation for it.

First, we made sauce. Lots of sauce. But the tomatoes kept coming. Then we had tomato salad with mozzarella cheese. Lots of it. And still the tomatoes kept coming.

Then, my husband sharpened our favorite chef’s knife, and got to work.


Pretty, yes? No comments suggesting someone might possibly be OC about arranging tomato halves.

A light drizzle with olive oil, some salt and pepper, a 225 degree oven and six hours later ….

I never was a big fan of sun-dried tomatoes, but these? These luscious, flavor bombs that I made with my own hands? There are no words.

I made four trays of this. And now they’re stored in two large bottles in the refrigerator, along with the peeled roasted garlic cloves that continue to flavor these babies as they sit together. Our three favorite uses for them:

  1. As a salad condiment, like olives.
  2. Sandwiched between two slices of garlic-toasted crusty bread, with lettuce, red onion, and a thin slice of sharp cheese. Yum.
  3. Mixed in with slices of chicken breast, shitake mushrooms, crushed garlic, fresh basil, and a light cream sauce over pasta.

Or you could just pop them in your mouth, savor the concentrated flavors, and be thankful for the power to transform something straight from the earth into something short of heaven.

Mango chow

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you mango chow, Trinidadian style.

I know it sounds strange, but trust me. It’s addictively sublime. I’ve been eating a lot of this lately, and I’m telling you, it’s impossible to get tired of this. It’s sweet, salty, tart, spicy, and oh by the way, incredibly healthy too.

Here’s what you do. Take a half-ripe mango and cut it into bite-sized slices. Take one clove of garlic, minced, and tablespoon or so of cilantro chopped roughly, and a sliver or two of your favorite hot pepper. Here at home, we use either a homegrown Caribbean red pepper or a congo pepper (also known as Scotch bonnet). Add in a teaspoon or so of kosher salt, some ground pepper if you want it, and lightly toss everything in a bowl to mix.

Then grab your weapon of choice and enjoy. I’m usually too impatient to reach for a fork by now, and just start picking the slices up from the bowl.

Excuse me while I go make this for breakfast.

You can do this with other fruits, like orange slices, halved grapes, or plum slices. It works best with tart or semi-tart fruits. And if you put the whole thing in a blender, you end up with a really fresh tasting fruit chutney. Excellent with grilled meats or curry dishes!

Excuse me while I go make that for lunch.

P.S. If someone can please tell me why those crazy Trinidadians name this chow, I’ll be forever grateful. (I’m allowed to call them crazy. I’m married to one.)

Granola bars: a hack recipe

Today’s Project 365 photo was inspired by the recent requests for the recipe I butchered used to make granola bars the other day. Not only does this save me from having to think of something to shoot today, but it also serves as proof that, despite my rambling and the seeming incoherence of what you are about to read, the recipe really does work and the end result really is edible.

Honest. It is. See?

granola bar

So, as requested, here is the granola bar recipe. Warning: I use the word “mix” 247 times in this recipe. I apologize in advance.

Ingredients:

2 cups oats (quick-cooking or old-fashioned should be fine)
1 cup almonds
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup flax seeds
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons flax oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons honey
extra two tablespoons oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

First, preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Prepare a 9×13 pan by lining it with foil and spraying lightly with oil. Then, in one bowl, combine the oats, nuts, flax seeds, and brown sugar. In another bowl, combine the 3-4 tablespoons of oil, maple syrup, and salt. Then mix all of them together and pour onto the 9 x 13 pan. Put that in the oven for 45 minutes, making sure to take it out every 15 minutes and stir everything around so that everything gets roasted evenly.

While the granola mixture is baking, get another bowl and mix one egg, two tablespoons of honey, two tablespoons oil (again, I used half vegetable oil and half flax oil), and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. After the 45 minutes of baking, take the granola mixture out and transfer it into a bowl. Meanwhile, increase oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Mix in the raisins and cranberries with the granola. Then, pour in the egg mixture. Mix again, then add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour mixed with the cinnamon (I suspect you can use whole wheat flour instead, but I didn’t, so don’t quote me on that). Once everything is nice and mixed properly, pour it back into the pan and spread it out evenly.

Pop it back into the oven for about 20 minutes or until the edges are golden or until you can’t stand the smell of the roasting nuts and just have to take it out for a taste or you’ll die. Please don’t let that happen. I don’t want you to die.

And I don’t want you to burn your tongue either, so let it cool first before taking it out of the pan and cutting it into bars. I just wrapped each piece in foil, but if you have a better way of storing it, please let me know.

Hope it turns out as good for you as it did for me.